This is the third entry in our series about substance use disorder myths. And while we have built the series around the classic MythBusters television series (here’s a clip for Star Wars fans), we also wanted to quote Ray Parker Jr.’s iconic theme song for the original Ghostbusters film. 

That’s because busting does make us feel good. After all, we want people to know the truth about the effectiveness of substance use disorder treatment. Each myth we can bust might help another person decide to get the help they need for a problem with drugs or alcohol and for co-occurring mental health disorders that might be tangled up with a substance use disorder.

But to that point, our first myth in this entry is about whether a person has to want to get help for that help to be effective. Let’s get started.

BUSTED: You have to want to get help for substance use disorder for treatment to be effective.

The reality is that most people who are struggling with drugs and alcohol are not eager to get into treatment. That could be true for any number of reasons. They might be trying to protect their reputation. They might be convinced they don’t really have a problem in the first place. They might be in such a bad place physically, mentally, or emotionally that they just can’t make a decision—even one that would benefit them. 

As a result, the main two reasons individuals seek out treatment is because a loved one prevails upon them to do so or because a court orders them to do so. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “scientific studies have shown convincingly that those who enter drug treatment programs in which they face ‘high pressure’ to confront and attempt to surmount their addiction do comparatively better in treatment, regardless of the reason they sought treatment in the first place.”

BUSTED: Quitting ‘cold turkey’ is an effective way to get sober.

Listen, cold turkey is delicious on a sandwich in the days following Thanksgiving, but trying to quit drugs or alcohol “cold turkey”—that is, simply deciding to stop using a substance all at once and without support—is, generally speaking, a terrible idea. 

That is true because when you use drugs or alcohol for an extended period, your brain and body come to expect them. If you try to suddenly deprive yourself of a substance, you are going to experience a range of withdrawal symptoms—including extreme cravings for the substance in question. 

That puts you between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, you might really want to give up drugs or alcohol because of the negative impact they are having on your life. On the other hand, withdrawal symptoms might well be too intense to withstand, so you end up continuing to use the substances you are desperate to leave behind.

The real path to sobriety includes medically supervised detoxification that can help you through the difficult period of getting drugs or alcohol out of your system.

BUSTED: Living a sober life means living a boring life.

The idea that it is impossible to have fun without drugs or alcohol is a particularly dangerous myth. No one wants to be bored or unhappy or lonely—and it might seem like substances of various kinds can keep those kinds of feelings at bay. Some people come to the conclusion that drinking or using drugs is the quickest—or even the only—route to making life more fun.

But the truth is that life offers a range of pleasures and exciting experiences that have nothing to do with drugs or alcohol. Sometimes, it takes a little planning to take advantage of those opportunities in ways that protect your sobriety, but that planning is both possible and worth it.

Also, it is no small thing that when you experience life soberly, you can make and maintain more good memories. Drugs and alcohol often steal a person’s memory. You can’t remember what you did last night, or last week, or last month because the substances are clouding your mind. When you are sober, you can have fun—and look back fondly on that fun later.

Here Is the Reality: The Aviary Recovery Center Can Help You Get Sober

We have dedicated three blog entries to busting a wide array of myths about substance use disorders and their treatment—and now we want to emphasize one extremely important reality. At The Aviary Recovery Center—located near St. Louis, Missouri—we offer personalized treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders. We are committed to a holistic approach to treatment, and we will see you through medically supervised detoxification, a rehabilitation program built around group and individual therapy, and a continuum of care that provides ongoing support in the early days of your recovery journey. 

Leave the myths behind—and leave drugs and alcohol behind, too. When you are ready to get started, we are ready—and able—to help.