5 Myths About Addiction

May 3, 2013

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Myths About Addiction

Addiction is a powerful medical condition that affects people of all ethnicities, backgrounds, income brackets and education levels. While addiction definitely takes a hard toll on the bodies and minds of substance abusers, the truth is that friends, family members and acquaintances of abusers can also suffer from the effects of addiction. Debunking some of the myths about addiction can help these friends and family members.

Addiction Has No Limits

For people with close relationships to substance abusers, addiction can be devastating and difficult to overcome. In addition to feeling scared and worried, the friends, families, coworkers of abusers may also face a great deal of confusion when it comes to understanding the exact nature of addiction. This confusion often stems from long-held myths about addiction and exactly how it functions.

Learning the truth about addiction can not only give substance abusers more hope, but it can help their friends and family members provide them with better support and guidance. Below are five common myths about addiction, along with the important facts about how this condition affects millions of people around the country.

Common Myths About Addiction

1. Users Simply Need More Will Power

It’s not uncommon for friends and family members of an abuser to simply wonder why the person they love can’t just stop using drugs or alcohol. Often people suggest or say outright that if a person really had enough desire and willpower, they could quit cold turkey, or at least cut back on how much they use a substance. This question can bring out particularly emotional responses when people with addiction problems put their jobs in jeopardy, suffer from marital issues, sever ties with loved ones or, worse, put their children in danger.

It may seem like in the face of these dire situations a person could use will power to overcome any sort of physical need to abuse drugs or alcohol. However, substance addiction is actually a condition that changes what goes on in a person’s brain. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse asserts that even if a person desperately wants to quit and has very strong will power, they will typically need more than desire to completely overcome the pull of the addiction.

2. Addiction is a Moral Issue

Along the same lines as people believing that addiction has to do with will power, there are also many individuals who think of addiction as an issue that relates to low morals. Even among people who don’t believe addiction is related to morality, there may still be a general stigma associated with addiction.

This belief has actually been around for a while, with the University of Utah’s Genetic Science Learning Center noting that imprisonment used to be one of the treatment methods for those suffering from addiction. Fortunately, more people now understand that individuals from all moral backgrounds and belief systems can develop addictions to various substances. Addiction is actually a medical condition that has nothing to do with a person’s sense of right or wrong.

It’s essential that friends, family members and acquaintances keep this in mind so they can avoid making an abuser feel guilty or sense that they are somehow inferior to those around them. People with substance abuse problems will find it much easier to seek out help if they can lean on others who are open-minded, loving, non-judgmental and who recognize that addition is, in fact, a medical condition.

3. Hitting Rock Bottom is the Best Way to Overcome Addiction

Many people talk about drug abusers hitting rock bottom before they’re able to truly seek out help. The phrase revolves around the thought that people can only realize they need treatment if they descend to the lowest possible point in their lives.

However, the idea of reaching rock bottom is not only highly subjective, it’s also extremely dangerous. Depending on who is talking about this idea, rock bottom can mean running out of money, being homeless, turning to a life of crime or being close to death. If family members or friends are waiting for their loved ones to hit rock bottom before recommending help, substance abusers might be at higher risk for serious issues that are associated with long term addiction.

These may include:

  • Liver damage
  • Serious accidents
  • Heart damage
  • Disease transmission from needle use
  • Imprisonment
  • Death

Contrary to the rock bottom theory, people with substance abuse problems can get help and recover at nearly any phase of their addition problem, whether they just became an addict or they’ve been addicted for decades. There is no single, ideal time to seek out help for an addiction – any time is a good time.

Rather than waiting for a potential proverbial rock bottom period, loved ones of someone with an abuse problem should be supportive about treatment and recovery at all stages of addiction.

4. If Treatment Failed Once, It Will Never Work

This is one of the biggest myths about addiction, and it is one that causes many people to give up on seeking out new methods of treatment. Often family members and friends will devote time, money and dedicated efforts toward getting a loved one to enter rehab only to have that person drop out or relapse later down the road.

If this happens, it’s easy to understand why people might get discouraged. However, there are many individuals who fail at their first attempts at treatment, only to find lasting success a second or third time. The reason this sometimes happens is that people may initially enter a treatment program that isn’t quite the right fit.

Often, substance abusers and loved ones don’t understand that not all treatment facilities and options are created equal. Each rehabilitation center offers a different atmosphere and overall approach, with unique combinations of services, including faith based recovery programs, group counseling, 12-step programs, one-on-one counseling, holistic rehabilitation, long-term care and other options.

This variety of treatment options simply means that, even if a person has had trouble with rehabilitation attempts in the past, finding a treatment solution that’s a good fit can provide a better chance of recovery in the future.

5. Addiction is Hopeless

For substance abusers and loved ones who have been struggling with addiction for a long time, recovery can be hard to imagine. But the truth is that many people have gone through similar struggles and successfully overcome even the most difficult addictions, regardless of the type of substance or how long the addiction has lasted.

Whether a person seeks help alone, or with the assistance of friends or family members, the first step toward beating addiction involves finding the ideal rehabilitation option that provides the right types of programs to suit an individual’s needs. Choosing the best possible treatment approach can not only give recovering substance abusers the tools to overcome addiction, but it can also instill them with hope that helps them continue to make progress.

Moving on and Getting Help

While it can be difficult for people to move past these common myths about addiction, it’s ultimately necessary in order to create an environment that is conducive to treatment and recovery. With all of the resources available today, addiction doesn’t have to carry a stigma and recovery doesn’t have to feel like a gamble. Supportive family members and friends, along with well-suited treatment options, can give a recovering substance abuser the best chance at a brighter, healthier future.




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