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Detox Myths Debunked

If you’re going through recovery or know someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you’ve probably learned that there are a lot of misconceptions. People have preconceived notions about who and what an addict is, and those notions are difficult to change.

But, as research progresses on the topic, we are collectively learning about addiction. Now, we can easily distinguish fact from fiction. Equally important are the myths that keep people from seeking help.

Here are some of the most common detox myths:

Myth: You need to hit rock bottom

You often hear the tales of people who finally turned their lives around after hitting rock bottom. You hear these stories so often because they are dramatic and interesting, not because they are the only way people recover. If you hear that someone went from living on the streets to earning six figures, you'll instantly want to know how. These stories are amazing, but here's the truth about an alcohol or drug detox: You don’t have to hit rock bottom to recover. Even if you feel like you’ve just recently lost control, you can reach out for help.

Myth: Everyone will know about my addiction

The truth behind this myth is that only the people you want to know about your addiction will find out. Your privacy is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), so whatever facility you choose must have your permission to share the details of your stay.

Myth: You’ll get fired for being an addict

This is a big one that keeps people from seeking treatment. Everyone is afraid that their boss will fire them as soon as they hear the word addiction. Truthfully, your boss probably already has suspicions about your addiction. If he or she hears you’re going to rehab, they’ll probably be relieved. The dangers of addiction on the job can be far worse than the stigma of going to rehab.

As for the time off, your job may have an employee assistance program (EAP) setup for people who are struggling with addiction. This is more common in larger companies. If you elect to use the EAP, your direct supervisor doesn’t have to know. On the other hand, if your addiction has caused workplace problems, your supervisor may get involved in your recovery.

You may also opt to take vacation time or check coverage under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Myth: Detox programs are expensive

Drug and alcohol detox programs can be expensive, but some may be covered under Medicaid and Medicare. The rules on this vary, so you should check your coverage to be sure.

If you don’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare coverage, you may consider a 12-step program to help you through recovery. These programs are free and available throughout the country, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one in your area. They tend to take a spiritual approach to recovery that focuses on forgiveness and making amends.

Myth: Detox is unbearable

There’s no way to sugarcoat this one: Detox is hard. During this time, your body will go through physical symptoms of withdrawal that can be painful and confusing. Still, it is doable.

When you think about whether you can handle detox, think about whether you’d like a temporary discomfort or a life of struggle and addiction. When things get hard, remind yourself that detox is temporary. And if you never go through it, addiction will be permanent.

And here’s the good news: Once those physical symptoms have subsided, you don’t have to deal with them again. Assuming you stay sober, your body will adjust to living without your substance of choice. That’s not to say that recovery is a breeze after detox. The second stage of recovery can be just as challenging in other ways. But again, this is temporary.

The bottom line is that addiction is bearable and you can do this.

Myth: Detox is the only part of recovery

Most of us associate recovery with the stuff we've seen on the movies. Sweating, vomiting, and tremors can all be part of your body's natural detoxification process from drugs or alcohol. But the stage that comes after detox can be equally challenging. It's called Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS. At this point, you've just finished detox, so the drugs have left your system. Now, your brain must re-learn how to function without the drugs. This can lead to symptoms like depression, anxiety, and aggression.

If these myths have kept you or someone you love from seeking help for addiction, it’s time for a change. If you need further convincing, call a rehab facility and talk through your concerns. They’ll be happy to help.

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