This is the second “episode” of our MythBusters-style look at myths about substance use disorders. (Since we are borrowing their schtick, we think it is only fair to share another clip from the original show. In this short video, the team uses a controlled explosion in an effort to make tomato juice…inside a still intact tomato.)

In our last episode, we debunked several myths about substance use disorders. But we didn’t get anywhere close to tackling all of the unfortunate misinformation that is out there in the world, so we are going to address some more myths in this post. Because bad information can cause someone to avoid getting the help they need to regain and maintain their sobriety, we want to share actual facts about substance use disorders and their treatment.

BUSTED: You don’t need help until you reach ‘rock bottom.’

The “rock bottom” myth is particularly pernicious—and it is a myth that people who are struggling with drugs or alcohol often use as a justification for not getting treatment for a substance use disorder. 

Here’s how that happens. Imagine that you have noticed a change in your behavior when it comes to drinking alcohol. Maybe you are drinking more often than you used to—and are drinking more each time you go out than you have in the past. At first, you start to worry, but then you decide that things are probably just fine. You’ll know that you need help if you ever hit rock bottom, right?

The problem with that approach is that “rock bottom” is mighty hard to define. Maybe you decide that if you ever experience a blackout, you’ll get help. But then you experience a blackout and decide that if you ever get picked up for drunk driving, you’ll get help. And then you get picked up…

Instead of waiting for a mythical rock bottom, it is far better to seek out help as soon as you suspect you might be developing an issue with drugs or alcohol. Getting help sooner means less damage to your physical health, your mental health, your relationships, and more.

BUSTED: Alcohol is less problematic than other drugs.

We used drinking in our example above in anticipation of this myth. Some people seem convinced that alcohol is much safer than other drugs. It is certainly true that alcohol has a much better reputation in society than, say, heroin or cocaine or meth. After all, drinking is legal and an accepted part of so many social situations. 

But as we pointed out in our last myth-busting entry, “legal” and “safe” are not synonymous. Alcohol is, in fact, a powerful drug in its own right—and drinking can have catastrophic consequences.

How catastrophic? Well, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that alcohol is the one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States. That is why it is so important to get help when you notice a problem developing.

BUSTED: Substance use disorder treatment is a “one and done” proposition.

Here is a myth we wish was true. In a perfect world, a person with a substance use disorder would go through the treatment process one time and be cured forever. Unfortunately, however, relapses are common and have a range of causes. But because of this myth, many people give up hope if they experience a relapse after going through treatment. They often blame themselves. Alternatively, they might conclude that treatment is a scam. 

But that is exactly the wrong reaction to a relapse. The right move is to return to treatment immediately. Substance use disorders are treatable, manageable chronic diseases—but they are not curable. And that means relapse is always a risk. A return to treatment allows you to reclaim your sobriety right away, sharpen up your strategies for staying sober, and relaunch your recovery journey. You may find yourself repeating that process several times—and that is perfectly okay.

The key thing to remember is that sobriety is always preferable to the alternative. Getting back into treatment following a relapse ensures that you can get sober again.

More Myths to Come

We don’t anticipate that this series on substance use disorder myths will run to as many episodes as were filmed for MythBusters, but there are still plenty more falsehoods to debunk. We’ll be back with another entry on this topic soon.

Here’s an Indisputable Fact: We Can Help You Get and Stay Sober 

At The Aviary Recovery Center—located near St. Louis, Missouri—we deal in facts rather than myths. Our personalized treatment plans are based on evidence, expertise, and experience and supported by a spirit of empathy. From detox, through rehab, and on to our continuum of care, we will see you through the treatment process and support you as your recovery journey gets underway. And we will always be here to help you get sober again should the need arise.

Learn more about admissions to The Aviary Recovery Center here.