Myths surrounding drug and alcohol addiction are quite common and very harmful. Replace myths about addiction with these real facts.
For instance, most people are unaware of just how common addiction is in the USA. However, nearly 1 in 12 Americans have an addiction to both drugs and alcohol. You most likely know a lot of people who have fought addiction in the past or are currently in the struggle. With that in mind, consider the following facts.
Fact: Addicts are not bad people.
The disease of addiction does not discriminate. An addict can live in a gated community or in a homeless shelter. They can be of any race, any age, and any religion. They can come from a happy and healthy upbringing or be raised by parents who are addicts themselves. It is not a person’s choice to become an addict. Yes, addicts do choose to do bad things to maintain their habit, but good people do bad things, and sick people need help, support, and treatment, not judgment.
Fact: To an addict, using drugs or alcohol is not a choice.
This is one of the common addiction myths that people who are not familiar with the disease believe. Addiction is a brain disorder. It is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive engagement in reward stimuli (drug seeking and use) despite consequences. You see if a person who doesn’t suffer from the disease of addiction or a “normy” uses a substance, and consequences follow, they make a choice to stop using the substances, but the addict’s brain uses a different process of thinking. Additionally, using drugs and alcohol changes the brain. Substance abuse changes the brain’s structure and how it functions. Unfortunately, for an addict, willpower just isn’t enough.
More Myths of Addiction
Myth: People who abuse prescription medications are not addicts.
If a person uses any substance habitually, whether that is prescribed medication, alcohol, legal drugs (marijuana), or illegal drugs to “get high”, they are an addict. Prescription drug abuse has hit epic proportions and should not be taken lightly. Prescription medication can be just as dangerous as street drugs, and these days they are often sitting in bathrooms and medicine cabinets at home, unmonitored, and within the reach of children. If you have unused prescription medications lying around, please take them to be disposed of properly at your local pharmacy and help prevent a young person from becoming an addict, or worse.
Myth: People who drink, don’t abuse other substances.
Alcohol is cheap and easy to get. It’s legal and sold at every corner store. If you know someone who has a drinking problem, it may appear that alcohol is their only drug of choice, but this is often not the case. Addicts often dangerously combine prescription medications, marijuana, or street drugs with alcohol and the effects are not as easy to spot in a person who is consistently intoxicated. In fact, alcoholics build up a tolerance after binge drinking and drinking for long periods of time, so adding additional substances may be the only way they can achieve any relief for their cravings.
Myth: Addiction treatment doesn’t work.
Myths about drug addiction, such as this one, thrive because of unrealistic portrayals of addiction in popular media. In real life, treatment is carefully considered and approached for each individual ensuring that they get the best start. It is important that a person assess their own treatment and recovery needs with the help of a professional, before entering treatment. Every person’s life experiences are different, and their needs will be different when it comes to types of treatment as well. The addict may need to start with detox and then they may need to enter an inpatient facility for up to 30 days before starting an outpatient treatment center. When people get the right support, the statistics show that treatment does in fact work:
- Roughly 80% of patients report benefiting from improved quality of life and health after completing drug and alcohol treatment.
- 90% of alcoholics will have at least 1 relapse during their first 4 years after they get sober.
- Of the 73% of addicts who completed inpatient treatment, 21% remained sober for 5 years.
- Of the 43% of addicts who completed outpatient treatment, 18% remained sober after 5 years.
Statistics show that an addict who has completed a treatment program has a greater chance at long-term recovery. Also, the longer a person stays in treatment, the better the outcome, regardless of what a person is addicted to.
Myth: People who use medication-assisted treatment are replacing one addiction with another.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) has been proven to save lives and improve recovery rates. Medications used during the detox process, do not create a “high” or cause impairment. However, medications can prevent potentially deadly side-effects from occurring during early sobriety, ease withdrawal symptoms and help curb cravings that would otherwise cause addicts to immediately relapse. Myths about drug addiction, like the above, often serve only to stigmatize effective treatment and prevent addicts from seeking the help they need.
Hopefully, the above information has helped you understand the difference between addiction myths and facts. If you have any more questions about addiction or are concerned about a loved one or family member, please give our staff a call at Oregon Trail Recovery, LLC (855) 770-0577. We are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.