September is designated as Recovery Month, which will celebrate people in recovery who have overcome stigma, denial, and other barriers to treatment. As a result, these people are leading healthy and productive lives in recovery.
Problems associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs affect all Newberrians. They cross all social and geographic boundaries, extending from Little Mountain to Kinards to Whitmire. These problems impact people of all ages and both genders, as well as from all ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic levels.
The good news is that more and more Newberrians probably know someone who has sought help for the disease of addiction and, as a result, has seen the benefits of treatment and recovery.
However, this field has long been plagued by many myths and much misinformation about the disease of addiction, as well as about the various treatment programs available for those who are suffering from the disease.
In an attempt to dispel some of these many myths and misconceptions, Westview and other alcohol and drug abuse treatment providers are celebrating “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month” throughout September to let the public know that Recovery Works.
Addiction to alcohol and other drugs is not a condition that has a known “cure.” However, there is overwhelming evidence that the disease process can be arrested with treatment. Because so many people use alcohol and other drugs without ever becoming addicted (although they may experience a variety of problems because of their use), our society has tended to view problem use as an individual weakness. These facts and myths combine to create misconceptions about addiction that often serve as barriers to individuals and families who desperately need help.
The following are some of the more damaging of these myths:
MYTH: Addiction is a bad habit, the result of moral weakness and overindulgence.
FACT: Addiction is a chronic, life-threatening, relapsing, and often fatal disease that (like hypertension or diabetes) has roots in genetic susceptibility, social circumstances, and personal behavior.
MYTH: If an alcoholic or addict has enough willpower, he or she can stop using at any time.
FACT: Individuals who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs cannot simply stop using, no matter how strong their inner resolve, any more than one who is diabetic can “will” his blood sugar to stabilize. The physical dependence on alcohol or some other drug overtakes a person’s decision-making ability. It is through intervention, safe physical withdrawal from the chemical, and an individualized treatment regimen that individuals obtain the life skills needed to end their self-defeating behaviors and begin a recovery process.
MYTH: The only person an addict hurts is himself.
FACT: Unfortunately, individuals who are experiencing problems associated with their use of alcohol and other drugs hurt far more people than themselves. In addition to causing problems for their friends and loved ones who are directly affected by their actions, abusers cost Newberry County approximately $22 million in economic costs.
These costs are reflected in increased prices for all goods and services because abusers are absent from work more often and are less productive when they are there. Higher taxes for additional police and jails are needed to deal with abusers. Property losses due to car crashes, thefts for drug money, and higher health care costs are caused by abusers who use the health care system more extensively than do non-abusers.
All these costs are not irreversible, however. Many people and programs in South Carolina dedicate themselves to reducing the social and economic costs of addiction. Westview Behavioral Health Services provides our county with excellent outpatient treatment programs and has provider relationships for detoxification and inpatient services. If you have concerns for yourself or a family member, please contact us at 276-5690.
Hugh Gray is the executive director at Westview Behavioral Health Services and can be reached at 803-276-5690.