“Well, you know what they say…”
“You know what I heard?”
“I think I read somewhere…”
These sorts of comments pop up in conversation all the time. It is possible you have uttered them yourself from time to time. Comments like this are almost always vague and unsourced. The “they” or “the people” who are supposedly saying this or that are rarely identified. Even so, these unnamed sources are used in support of one opinion or another. The speaker may hope that the idea that “some people say” adds some sense of outside authority to their commentary.
While this might seem like a largely harmless conversational tactic, it can actually be problematic if we don’t approach it critically. A person struggling with or in recovery from a substance use disorder, for example, might be fooled into heeding some bad advice based on little or nothing. Alternately, a little bit of vagueness (especially online) might be used to make it look as though someone is speaking for themselves when they are really advancing someone else’s agenda.
Let’s look at a couple of scenarios in which unclear or nonexistent sources might lead a person struggling with drugs or alcohol astray.
When ‘They Say’ It Is All About Willpower or Faith or Character
All too often, well-meaning people will decide it is their obligation to say something to you about how to get or stay sober. These individuals may frame their suggestions in such a way that it sounds as though they are citing expert opinions. But as a rule, they are doing no such thing.
The person giving advice might say, “You know, they say that if you just have enough willpower, you can give up drugs on your own.”
The advice giver might say, “They say that if you have enough faith in God, he will heal you from addiction.”
Or this person might say, “A lot of people say alcohol abuse is a reflection of your character.”
While the truth of the matter is likely that the advice giver is sharing their own opinion, referring to an undefined they can make their statement seem more authoritative than it really is. After all, not one of those statements about willpower, faith, or character is true.
It is actually quite cruel to share these unfounded ideas as if they are widely accepted because it might keep a person who needs treatment from seeking the help they need.
When Internet Influencers Don’t Share Who is Influencing Them
When someone is trying to sell you something, the only ethical approach is to be on the up-and-up about it. But sometimes on the internet, some subtle marketing is happening in less than upfront ways.
For example, many so-called online “influencers” who appear to be creating content independently are actually including messages and ideas that might come from a business hoping to sell you products of one kind or another.
In the wellness space, this can lead folks to make choices that seem to be grounded in an influencer’s personal experience but are instead based on a company’s talking points. Unfortunately, this kind of problematic behavior can be found in the substance use treatment industry. Be on your guard for people online who may have an undisclosed financial interest determining what they endorse.
So Who Can You Trust When It Comes to Treatment and Recovery?
Fortunately, you do not have to rely on vague, unreliable information or sources when it comes to getting information about effective treatment for substance use disorders or about the recovery journey. If you are struggling, an honest conversation with your doctor or therapist is always a good place to start. And you can instead count on ethical providers of substance use disorder treatment—providers like French Creek Recovery Center.
Here Is What We Say About Your Sobriety
At French Creek Recovery Center in Meadville, PA, we say that regaining your sobriety is possible—and we can help you do it. We offer medically supervised detoxification, a rehabilitation program equipped to address co-occurring mental health disorders, and a robust continuum of care that ensures you feel supported as your recovery journey gets underway.
In a world where it seems as though everyone has some advice to offer about every imaginable topic (whether they have any expertise or not) it is important to get your information—and your treatment—from true experts. At French Creek Recovery Center, we are dedicated to evidence-based practices, and we offer our expertise and experience to every person we treat. If you are ready to leave drugs and alcohol behind, we say it is time to reach out to us.