It is difficult to deal with drug addiction in your personal life, either your own drug abuse or those of someone you care about. How do you know what to do next?Unless an individual has lived through a substance abuse problem, it is hard to understand the scope and damaging effects that addiction can cause. There are a number of popular myths about drug addiction that many of us take as fact, simply because we’ve never been faced with the truth before.
To better understand what drug addiction is, and what it is not, let’s take a look at some of the most popular myths concerning drug addiction.
Myths About Drug Addiction
Myth #1: Only “hard” drugs like cocaine and heroin are addictive.
FACT: Drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines are definitely dangerous and come with a lot of risks. However drugs that are used in a more recreational manner, like alcohol and marijuana, can be addictive as well. Even drugs prescribed by a doctor, like opioid painkillers, can lead to addiction, so be careful to follow your doctor’s directions.
If drugs like heroin, cocaine and alcohol couldn’t cause dependence and addiction, the problems of substance abuse and drug-related crime might not exist. However, this isn’t the case. These things have chemicals that are specifically meant to cause addiction. Almost all addictive drugs act on the brain’s natural reward circuitry. These change the way you feel, act and behave as you become increasingly dependent on the substance of your choice.
Addictions don’t have to be drugs or alcohol. Behaviours as diverse as gambling, exercise and even work can all become addictive. The most important thing to take away from this myth is that it’s up to you to manage your level of intensity in anything.
Myth #2: Addicts are bad people.
FACT: Addicts aren’t “bad” people trying to get “good,” they’re sick people trying to get well. They don’t belong to a particular race or exist only in certain parts of the country. Those addicted to drugs may be lawyers, farmers, soldiers, mothers, and grandfathers who struggle with drug dependence on a daily basis.
Every person struggling with drug addiction is proof that addiction doesn’t discriminate—but, thankfully, neither does recovery.
Popular opinion, television shows and media stories create the impression that addicts are selfish, weak and lacking self-control. The idea may also come from fear and a lack of understanding about addiction. The sooner we replace fears and misconceptions with understanding, the easier it will be for addicts to get the help they need.
Myth #3: If someone just uses willpower, they should be able to stop.
FACT: For people who are vulnerable to addiction, substance use can lead to profound changes in the brain. These changes hijack the natural “reward pathway” of the brain. In nature, rewards usually only come with effort and after a delay. But addictive substances shortcut this process and flood the brain with chemicals that signal pleasure. The brain sends signals of powerful and intense cravings, which are accompanied by a compulsion to use. These brain changes make it extremely difficult to quit and often a treatment program is required.
When the disease takes hold, these changes in the brain erode a person’s self-control and ability to make good decisions. While sending highly intense impulses to take drugs. These are the same circuits linked to survival, driving powerful urges no different from those driving the need to eat or drink water.
These overwhelming impulses help explain the compulsive and often baffling behavior around addiction. People will keep using even when terrible things happen to them. Many people think that there’s only one path for addiction treatment, but this isn’t the case.
Myth #4: There is only one way to get sober when dealing with drug addiction.
FACT: There are, in fact, numerous approaches to tackling drug and alcohol addiction, and everyone requires a different method of treatment. Some people may respond differently to treatment, and as a result, they require a plan that is carefully tailored to their specific needs. While there are many forms of treatment out there, the common end goal is always long-term sobriety.
As well, addiction is a chronic disease, which means it’s a long-lasting condition that can be controlled but not cured. Treatment can be the first step toward wellness, but it’s just the very beginning. Many people need more than one treatment visit to get on a stable path to wellness. More importantly, staying well requires a lifelong commitment to personally managing the disease.
Myth #5: If someone relapses in drug addiction treatment, they’re a lost cause.
FACT: Try not to be too discouraged by a relapse, which is a recurrence of symptoms. Addiction is a chronic illness very similar to type II diabetes or hypertension, meaning it requires lifelong management. Relapse is no more likely with addiction than it is for these other chronic illnesses.
Getting well involves changing deeply embedded behaviors. This takes time and effort and sometimes results in setbacks. This doesn’t mean previous treatments failed, because the person with the disease still made progress overall in getting well. A recurrence may be a sign that the treatment approach or other supports need to change, or that other treatment methods are needed. There is hope. Keep in mind that most people with addiction who suffer a recurrence will return to recovery.
Like virtually any other medical treatment, addiction treatment cannot guarantee lifelong health. Although nearly one-third of clients achieve abstinence from their first treatment attempt. Relapse, often a part of the recovery process, is always possible and treatable. Even if a person never achieves perfect abstinence, addiction treatment can reduce the number and duration of relapses.
Myth #6: Those with a drug addiction will not benefit from treatment until they hit rock bottom.
FACT: This myth is particularly troublesome because it packs a one-two punch. It propels a user deeper into drug abuse – increasing negative behaviors and creating a stronger addiction. At the same time, the myth causes family and friends to believe they are powerless to step in until someone has lost it all.
This logic is extremely dangerous. Family and friends should not wait until their loved one is at or near rock bottom. Experts specializing in behavior therapy and addiction recovery can help users during any point in their journey. The sooner users get treatment, the more likely it is they will recover and live a life free from drugs and alcohol.
When your body becomes dependent on the drug, addiction can quickly spiral out of control. Addicts who hit rock bottom may lose their job, loved ones, and even their life. By that point, it may be too late. Do you suspect that you or a loved one has a problem with drugs or alcohol? Do not hesitate to get help immediately.
Do you think you might have a problem with drug abuse?
Is it possible that your recreational use of drugs has grown into an addiction? Ask yourself these questions and give yourself the benefit of honest answers. According to the diagnostic characteristics for drug addiction, if even one of these characteristics applies to you, you could have a serious medical condition. If you are concerned that you have a problem, please contact us so we can guide you to a program that can help you.
- Do you choose to use drugs over spending time with your family or meeting your responsibilities for school or work?
- Do you use drugs even in dangerous situations, such as when driving a car?
- Have you ever been arrested because of your drug use, either for behavior related to drug use or simply for possessing drugs, but you still continue to use drugs?
- Do you continue to use drugs even though your social and family relationships are suffering? Does your drug use cause family fights and other interpersonal problems?
Managing Drug Addiction with Harmony Ridge Recovery Center
For many people who have never struggled with a drug or alcohol addiction, they do not understand the in and outs of this problem. A shockingly low number of Americans who need addiction treatment actually receive it – only 2.5 million people out of 22.7 million. Our treatment programs see addiction and recovery as a health issue, not a moral issue. Treatment centers play a necessary role in addiction treatment. Clients do best when their unique needs are addressed and they can focus solely on recovery. Has your addiction left you feeling helpless with no way out? Our team of admissions professionals are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Give us a call today! (888) 771-8372