5 Things I’ve Learned From Working in Addiction Treatment

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Sep 8, 2016

5 Things I’ve Learned From Working in Addiction Treatment


I spend 40 hours a week reading, writing, and producing content for addiction treatment facilities. I’ve been doing it for almost a year and I love it but to say it was an unexpected turn in my career would be a huge understatement. I started my writing career in the fashion and lifestyle realm of the internet, first writing about fashion designers and shows eventually leading me to lifestyle topics like eco-fashion, consumerism,  sustainability, as well as health and wellness. Miles away from addiction and mental health.

5 Things I’ve Learned From Working in Addiction Treatment

5 Things I’ve Learned From Working in Addiction Treatment

Another understatement? How much I’ve learned since I started exploring addiction and the many people who are affected by it. Here, I’m sharing just five of the many things I’ve learned from working in addiction treatment.

5 Things I’ve Learned From Working in Addiction Treatment

I Now Understand the Stigma of Addiction

Before I started working in the industry, I thought of people who were addicted to drugs or alcohol as a lot of Americans do. I thought of them as people who maybe went down the wrong path, made some bad decisions, and had little means or motivation to get their lives back on track. I guess you could say that I was a little more on the “choice” side of the argument.

I also didn’t realize exactly how everyone in this country is affected by the stigma of addiction in everyday life. The media perpetuates the drug problem in this country by either being too strongly against it by painting it as a societal problem or by not taking it seriously enough. For example, on television, more than one-third of drinking scenes are humorous while only 23% scenes show the negative consequences excessive binge drinking.

5 Things I’ve Learned From Working in Addiction Treatment

There is a Difference Between Being Sober and Being In Recovery

Amongst the many things I didn’t realize about addiction is the distinction between being sober and being in recovery. Actually, I often used the two terms interchangeably in my early days of writing about addiction. If you are someone who has lived with a substance use disorder, you probably think, “Man, this girl was clueless.” Me and much of the country, unfortunately.

According to Psychology Today, recovery and sobriety are in fact very different. When someone is sober and has not gone to drug or alcohol rehab, they are essentially just abstaining from drinking without addressing the common underlying issues that are synonymous with alcoholism. However, when someone is in recovery that usually means that they have gone to rehab and have learned to live life in a way that they are able to manage their cravings and the physical need to drink or do drugs. They have also likely, depending on the rehab program they went through, addressed most or all of their underlying issues that lead them to begin drinking or using in the first place.

Sidenote: Recovery can be used to describe someone who has overcome an addiction to either drugs or alcohol, while sobriety is generally used to describe abstinence from alcohol. Being “clean” is often the term used for people who were addicted to narcotic drugs.

5 Things I’ve Learned From Working in Addiction Treatment

Not Everyone Has a “Drinking Phase”

Despite what mainstream media will have you believe, drinking in excess is not a phase that every college-aged young adult goes through. Drinking and partying are seen as a sort of right of passage for women and men in their early 20’s. Weekly and even nightly parties and events are centered around drinking and are seen as a normal activity.

Turns out, not everyone has a drunken phase of their life and not everyone centers their lives around drinking. Many who are not educated on the precautions of heavy drinking are headed down a dark road. Nights filled with vague memories, words you might regret, and too much time spent in the bathroom, recovering. Binge drinking and the things that can happen as a result of it are not normal behavior more than a way to cope with situations and people in your life that you don’t want to deal with.

5 Things I’ve Learned From Working in Addiction Treatment

I Became More Compassionate and Empathetic Towards People Who Are Addicted

Growing up with people who struggle with alcoholism and drug abuse, it’s hard not be pissed at them. It’s hard not to wonder why they would do such things and say such things or why they are putting the family through all this. However, it’s easy to place blame, point fingers, and not to realize that more than their selfish need to drink and destroy they have got some serious underlying issues that need to be addressed.

Addiction of any kind is a loaded and complicated disease. So many people who are doing drugs or drinking alcohol are doing so because there is something else going on. They may be trying to self-medicate either physical pain or emotional pain or maybe they also suffer from a co-occurring disorder such as depression or anxiety.

5 Things I’ve Learned From Working in Addiction Treatment

I Realized the Scope of the Addiction Epidemic

The drug problem in America is nothing really that new. From the nightly news to the notorious “War on Drugs,” it’s always been an issue. Growing up I always knew that there were people who did drugs and there were people who didn’t but I never really thought of it as being an epidemic.

According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, drug use is on the rise with 23.5 million Americans addicted to either drugs or alcohol. That’s almost 1 in 10 people over the age of 12.

Even more shocking is the small collection of those people that actually receive the treatment that they need. 11 percent. That’s it. 11 percent of people get addiction treatment for substance use disorders.

But help is available. You just have to know where to start. That’s exactly what the team behind recoveryas.com is here for: to help those that need addiction treatment find the help and resources that they need. Reach out for help today by calling 877-968-6283 and start your path to a drug-free life.

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