As alcohol detox and rehabilitation tend to be talked about a lot in popular culture, with celebrities being publicly seen to be in and out of rehab, there are a lot of myths about alcohol detox, what it is and what it achieves.
For someone who is considering alcohol detox, it is important to dispel these myths about alcohol detox so they are not used as an excuse by alcoholics for not achieving lasting sobriety.
Myth 1: You have to accept that you have a problem before it will work: whilst being in denial about your addiction doesn’t help, addiction counsellors are trained to reframe the addict’s way of thinking and can help them come to terms with their addiction. It will certainly be easier for someone who accepts they have a problem and wants to change things, but plenty of people are sent to rehab unwillingly by concerned relatives and still achieve sobriety.
Myth 2: Alcohol detox is always painful and uncomfortable: this is not a universal truth, although for some people it can be. How you are affected by alcohol detox depends on many factors, including how dependent you are and how long you have been addicted.
Myth 3: Private detox and rehabilitation centres are only for the rich and famous: there is a wide range of different rehabilitation treatment centres which vary in cost and the types of treatment they offer. The more expensive centres tend to offer a higher level of privacy or luxury but these luxuries are not necessary to the success of the programme.
Myth 4: Once you’ve gone through detox you will be fine: detox is usually just the first stage of recovery. Once you have gone through detox, you will need to have a good rehabilitation programme in place to support the next stage of your recovery. This will include counselling to help you identify and change your negative patterns of behaviour which led to your addiction.
Myth 5: Relapse is a normal part of recovery: any addict who believes this is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe that you have to relapse as part of the recovery process, you probably will, but the truth is, a recovering alcoholic who relapses is far less likely to achieve lasting sobriety, than one who doesn’t. There are plenty of people who achieve lifelong sobriety without a history of relapse.
Myth 6: Detox can be done on your own: the symptoms you may experience as part of your detox and withdrawal from alcohol can be life threatening. You should always undertake detox under medical supervision as until you start, you do not know how it is going to affect you.
Myth 7: Detox cures addiction: Alcoholics can never safely return to drinking because drinking in any amount will sooner or later reactivate their addiction. This does not mean that all alcoholics will always return to their addiction, but if they do start drinking again, it will be hard to recover.
Myth 8: Alcohol detox takes a long time: it is not the detox that takes a long time, but the rehabilitation and recovery after detox. Detox is typically over within seven to ten days but that is just the first stage of recovery from addiction. The subsequent rehabilitation programme is what can take longer, usually between 3 months and 18 months, and the quest for lasting sobriety is usually life long.