There are many myths and misconceptions that surround drugs, alcohol, and addiction. These issues can enhance the stigmas that exist and make people more hesitant to seek treatment. In addition, this misinformation can actually increase the risk of addiction because people are not properly educated about the dangers of drugs or alcohol. January 23-29, 2017 is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week and a wonderful time to follow the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) theme of “Shatter the Myths.”
9 Common Myths about Drugs, Alcohol, Addiction, and Recovery
1. Addiction is a choice.
No one wants or chooses to be addicted to drugs or alcohol. Addiction can develop rather quickly in some cases. Many people believe that a person should just “stop using” if they want to overcome addiction. However, it’s not as simple as that. Drugs and alcohol change the way the brain functions and processes information. These substances rewire the brain’s reward circuit. Even if a person wants to stop, it can be very difficult to achieve on their own without professional treatment from a rehab like Crossroads. Addiction treatment helps clients to build healthier coping mechanisms and address underlying issues that contribute to addiction.
2. Addiction is a dead end.
While there is no “cure” for addiction, it is a treatable and manageable condition. Many people enter recovery and live very successful and productive lives. They continue implementing the strategies learned in addiction treatment to prevent relapse and build healthy lifestyles and routines. Addiction is not a dead end – it is an opportunity to change, and lasting change is possible.
3. Addiction takes a long time to develop.
While this may be true for some people, it is not for others. A person can become more susceptible to addiction after just one use, especially with highly addictive drugs such as heroin. The impact is felt immediately and people want to continue this feeling. Addiction depends on the person, the substance, and the frequency and amount used, however. There is no set standard for how long it takes addiction to develop. It is very important to get treatment as early as possible once symptoms of alcoholism and drug use appear.
4. Prescription drugs are safe – they are prescribed by doctors.
Many prescription drugs are safe and effective when used as directed. Even these drugs have risk of addiction, though. Consider the opioid epidemic – misuse or overuse of prescription painkillers is often where it starts. There are risks associated with any drug, so individuals should talk with their doctor and learn the symptoms of addiction.
5. High tolerance to alcohol decreases addiction risk.
Some people believe that because they can drink a lot without feeling much effect, this means they’re at a lower risk for addiction. However, a high tolerance is already a sign that there is a problem. When the body builds a tolerance, this increases the amount a person must consume to feel the same affects, which can lead to addiction, overdose, or alcohol poisoning. Being able to drink several alcoholic beverages without much effect is a sign that drinking may be problematic.
6. People struggling with addiction are homeless and/or unemployed.
These are common stereotypes about addiction. In reality, addiction does not discriminate, and there are many successful people with nice homes and good jobs who are affected. Their relationships, financial stability, and work performance may all be negatively impacted by their drug or alcohol use. Their outward successes can also make it easier for the person to downplay substance use problems and hide their addiction.
7. Relapse means treatment doesn’t work.
Relapse is not a sign of failure and it does not mean that treatment doesn’t work. It means that the person needs to adjust their approach to addiction recovery and the strategies that they are using. Some people relapse a few times before achieving long-term recovery and others complete treatment and aftercare without ever relapsing. No two treatment programs are exactly the same, so what works for one person may not work as well for another. Crossroads provides customized care that is adjusted to fit each client’s needs and goals.
8. Recovery is boring.
Some people are hesitant to give up a life of addiction because they think their life in recovery will be boring and mundane. There are plenty of fun and exciting activities to participate in completely sober. Recovery helps people to rediscover their interests and derive enjoyment from everyday events. They can see the world from a new perspective and realize the negative toll that addiction was taking on their life and how much it was holding them back from reaching their potential.
9. A person must hit rock bottom for treatment to be effective.
“Rock bottom” means something different to everyone. A person does not have to lose everyone and everything before they’re willing to change and embrace treatment. Some people realize that they don’t like the path they’re headed down, or don’t like the way they feel anymore while in active addiction, so they want help to change. They want to become the best parent possible for their children, set a good example, live a more fulfilling life, land the job of their dreams, or anything else – and this is all possible through an effective treatment program and commitment to recovery.
Raising Awareness about Addiction and Recovery
One of the best things that you can do is educate yourself and your family about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and the options for recovery. Make sure that children know the risks associated with drinking and how to avoid peer pressure when it comes to substance use. Talk to them about healthy ways to reduce stress, the importance of staying active, good mental health, and asking for help if they need it.
There is no shame in addiction or seeking treatment. Recovery is possible. Crossroads supports women through residential treatment for addiction and behavioral health issues, and provides outpatient treatment and therapy groups for both women and men. Find what works best for you and remember who you wanted to be. The future is yours, so make the most of it by overcoming addiction, breaking down stigmas, and raising awareness about the benefits of treatment. Educate your children and others so that they don’t believe common myths about drugs, alcohol, addiction, and recovery.Are there any other myths that you would add to the list? Leave a comment and let us know!