Addiction is a complex disease that requires individualized and holistic treatment. As with any complicated disease, information on the topic can be easily misunderstood. As a result, many myths surrounding addiction are circulated. However, it’s important to understand the truth about addiction in order to minimize stigma and to effectively help and support those in our community who suffer with it.
Dr. Chambless Johnston is the founder and CEO of East Tennessee Recovery. East Tennessee Recovery specializes in outpatient addiction treatment and is one of the largest office-based opioid treatment (OBOT) providers in Tennessee. Johnston is passionate about helping individuals with addiction and believes in an integrative approach to treatment. He has 15 years of experience as an internal medicine physician and opened his first OBOT in 2012. Today, Dr. Johnston lives in Johnson City, Tennessee, with his wife and four children. He continues to help individuals in the community overcome addiction using holistic treatment methods, which include counseling and primary care. He shares his expertise on addiction, addressing some of the most common myths and facts about addiction treatment.
Myth #1 — Those who suffer from addiction have no self-control
The idea that individuals suffering from addiction are simply overindulgent and lack moral strength is incorrect. Addiction is a serious disease that requires medical attention and treatment. Like diabetes, heart disease, or any other physical disorder, addiction is a medical condition with real and lasting physical and psychological effects. According to Chambless Johnston, addiction can stem from a genetic disposition, social circumstance, and other factors outside the control of the individual. With the help of specialized treatment, those suffering from addiction can overcome it and live a healthy, productive life.
Myth #2 — Addiction treatment isn’t necessary
Many people believe that individuals suffering from addiction do not require treatment to stop their substance abuse. If the addicted person cannot overcome their dependence, they simply are not trying hard enough or don’t have the willpower to do so. However, this belief could not be farther from the truth. Addiction is a very complicated disease, with various factors- both internal and external- playing simultaneous roles. Chambless Johnston suggests that overcoming addiction requires addressing these confounding factors. As a result, an individualized treatment plan is necessary. A comprehensive strategy, developed by an addictions specialist, will ensure that all of the complex aspects associated with addiction are addressed in order to facilitate recovery.
Myth #3 — Addiction treatment doesn’t work
Many people relapse, even after receiving addiction treatment. While some people take this to mean that treatment isn’t effective, that opinion is false. The truth is addiction is a difficult disease that, for some, may be a life-long struggle. While approximately one-third of addiction patients remain sober after their first treatment plan is completed, others face the struggle of relapse. Although relapse may come across as a failure, it can often be part of the recovery process, notes Chambless Johnston. In fact, drug and alcohol abuse can result in functional and structural changes to the brain. It is these physical changes that may play a part in relapse. However, for those who do relapse, there is still hope. Addiction specialists recognize that, although there is always the potential for relapse, addiction treatment can help to address many issues, including those beyond the surface of substance abuse. For instance, not only will addiction treatment reduce instances of relapse, but it also helps the individual learn how to function better in daily life, how to cope with temptation, and improve overall mental and physical health. Notably, treatment can also help to reduce the impact that parents with substance abuse issues have on their children.