What Are Myths?
One definition of myth is a false belief held by many people. When it comes to addiction and recovery, myths are harmful to everyone involved. Only when people understand the truth about substance abuse, addiction, and recovery can long-term healing begin. We offer below seven common addiction myths and the realities behind them.
1. Myth: Addiction is a choice. If someone wanted to stop using drugs or alcohol, they could.
Reality: Addiction is a chronic disease, not a choice. Risk factors for addiction include genetics, life circumstances, upbringing, trauma, mental illness, and more. Sometimes, none of these factors are involved. Anyone can be affected by addiction. Drug abuse or addiction changes a person’s brain chemistry, affecting the way the brain registers pleasure, reward-related learning, and motivation. A person suffering from addiction strongly craves the drug regardless of any negative consequences.
2. Myth: You have to hit “rock bottom” for treatment to be successful.
Reality: There is no set “rock bottom”. It varies from one person to another. A person does not have to hit rock bottom for treatment to be successful. The longer a person waits to seek treatment, the more advanced their disease becomes. The sooner they get help, the better.
3. Myth: Since prescription drugs such as opioid painkillers, stimulants, and sedatives are commonly prescribed by medical professionals, they are safe to use. They are not addictive like street drugs.
Reality: Using prescribed medications for short-term medical use exactly as prescribed is an effective treatment for pain and other conditions. However, regular or long-term use of prescription drugs can result in addiction. Abusing these drugs, whether they are prescribed to you or someone else, often has dangerous and sometimes fatal consequences. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 18 million people in the United States misused prescription medications in 2017. Unfortunately, addiction to prescription medications continues to increase.
4. Myth: Having an alcohol addiction is not as bad as being addicted to drugs.
Reality: Alcohol is legal, easily accessible, and acceptable. Millions of Americans enjoy drinking as a social activity. The social aspect of drinking gives the false impression that alcohol is much less dangerous than other substances, such as cocaine or heroin. But alcohol is a powerful drug, and in many cases a deadly drug. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that in the United States, alcohol is the third leading preventable cause of death.
5. Myth: If a person has a family life and holds a stable job, they cannot have a drug or alcohol addiction.
Reality: Many people suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol lead active family lives and are successful professionally. Many of them are in denial that they have a problem because they can maintain their family and work responsibilities. In many cases, what they say and what they do is very different. Many people are good at hiding their addiction while maintaining the image that everything is normal.
6. Myth: A person has to want drug treatment or it will not be effective.
Reality: According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost no one wants treatment for drug addiction. The two main reasons people seek treatment for addiction are because of loved ones urging them to do so, or because treatment was court-ordered.
7. Myth: A person should only need treatment once. It should work the first time.
Reality: Recovery from a substance use disorder is a life-long process that sometimes includes setbacks. Experiencing a relapse does not mean that the person is a failure. It does not mean that they will never attain lasting sobriety or that treatment has failed. Since addiction is a chronic disease, relapse is always a possibility. If a person relapses, it is a signal they need to adjust their treatment plan, which may include returning to inpatient or outpatient treatment. Some people can maintain their sobriety after being in a recovery treatment center one time; others may require multiple visits. Recovery varies from person to person.
Do You Need Help?
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, help is available. You are not alone. At Anabranch Recovery Center, located in Terre Haute, Indiana, we will provide you with the care you need to become sober. Give us a call, and take the first step on the path to recovery.
About the Author:
Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.