5 Common Misconceptions About Recovery

Debunking Recovery Misconceptions in Honor of National Recovery Month 

The road to recovery is never one size fits all, yet there have been overarching concepts ingrained into our minds surrounding the process of recovery. September is National Recovery Month, dedicated to raising awareness about substance use disorders and celebrate the strength and resilience of those who recover.  

Laura Auble, LCSW, LCADC, CCS, Senior Program DirectorRecovery Services, Acenda, has provided her expertise on the subject to help set the record straight.

Here are 5 common stigmatized beliefs about recovery and the truth behind the misconceptions.
young man in recovery support group being comforted

1. I have to go to an in-patient rehab to recover. If I don’t go away to a rehabilitation center, I can’t fully recover because I’ll be surrounded by temptation. 

"Many clients do not require treatment at a rehabilitation center.  In other words, most individuals seeking treatment do so in an outpatient program within their community.  It is accurate that individuals attending inpatient treatment will not have access to substances.  However, once inpatient treatment is completed, individuals return home to their original environment where they may have access to substances again.  It's important that all clients receiving substance use disorder treatment learn refusal skills to sustain recovery after treatment ends. 

2. I’m too young to have a substance abuse problem.  It’s not called alcoholism until you graduate, all college-aged kids act this way and binge drink.   

There are no age requirements or restrictions when it comes to being diagnosed with a substance use disorder.  There are also different levels of impairment when it comes to these disorders.  Someone who drinks to excess on weekends at college may have mild or moderate alcohol use disorder, whereas someone who drinks daily may have a severe alcohol use disorder.  Both examples indicate a substance use disorder that is not defined by age. 

3. Relapse equals failure. If I relapse once, recovery is hopeless and I’ll never get back on track or have the willpower to stop.   

Relapse is not failure. Many individuals have multiple relapses prior to maintaining long term recovery.  Substance use disorders are medical conditions and relapses occur just as they do in other medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.  If a heart disease patient has a setback due to their illness, doctors do not equate this to failure, just as new facet to address in illness management.  Substance use disorders are no different in how they are managed.   

4. I have to be religious to work a 12-step program.  It’s the only option. 

There are many types of mutual support programs, not all are 12 step or religious.  There are also very specialized mutual support meetings that are population specific, such as women only or LGBTQ friendly. 

5. I’ll lose my social life if I’m sober. All my friends and I do is go out to bars and parties. I’ll lose all of that social interaction if I’m sober.   

Developing a sober support system is very important.  Many individuals who stop using substances re-evaluate their social support system while in treatment.  It is important for clients to have social supports even if they decide that they no longer want to congregate with friends they used to drink and use substances with at bars.  Engaging in mutual support meetings can be a great way to network and establish new relationships with others who share the same values in terms of abstaining from substance use. 

young woman hugging comforting loved one in recovery

Recovery is not easy. It will not happen overnight. Support is crucial. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse and you wish to seek help, our clinicians and care managers are available to assist you through our Community Behavioral Health Clinic located in Gloucester County. For more information about recovery services in Gloucester County, please call (856) 494-8484. For more information on our specialized recovery services offered in Cape May County, please call our main number at 844-422-3632 x9501.