Unmasking the Myths about Drug Addiction

Understanding the truth about drug addiction can help you to dispel some of the common myths about the problem.

Following are seven of the more prominent myths about drug addiction, and explanations that disperse them.

  1. An Addict Needs to hit “Rock Bottom” Before They Can Recover – Many people have long sided with this myth as fact. They feel that a person that may have a drug or alcohol addiction must hit a complete low where they have no one else to turn to before they look for help. Studies have shown that the earlier on in an addiction that a person admits they are in need of help, the better off that person will be.
  2. Addiction is All About Having a Lack of Willpower – This has long been a common misconception and is one of the more well-known drug addiction myths. Many people have believed that this is true and that abuse is a question of having zero control over your will to take drugs or alcohol excessively. These opinions may stem from some of the types of therapies often used during recovery, where behavior modification is used to build up self-esteem and self-control. The fact is that drug addiction is often centered on an area of the brain that is not under one’s control of and the brain and body involuntarily become dependent and tolerant of the drug use, creating the perfect situation for addiction.
  3. All Addicts are Crazy or Uneducated – Movies, television and the media have helped fuel this myth that addicts are inherently bad people, crazy, or uneducated. These are the supposed reasons why they have fallen into drug abuse. There is no factual basis for this logic and anyone, no matter where they are from or how much schooling they have had, can potentially fall victim to drug addiction. It is a disease of the brain that goes beyond any and all of these factors.
  4. People Abuse Drugs because They Want To – In some cases, in the initial use of an illicit drug, the person may be willingly taking the drug to try it out, but this is not what causes them to become addicted. This is also certainly not the case for those that become addicted to prescription medications. Somewhere along the line in both instances the drug use goes from being one that started out as voluntary to one that is a compulsion and physical need. The changes that occur in the brain create the dependence and need for the drug, making it uncontrollable.
  5. You have to Want Drug Treatment for it to Work – While this may sound plausible, it simply is not true. No one wants to have to go through drug treatment knowing how difficult and painful an experience it can be. Recent studies have indicated that addicts who faced more pressure to confront their addiction have done better with treatment overall, whether the treatment was court mandated or because family and friends exerted pressure for the person to get help.
  6. Addiction Cannot be Treated with the Use of Medication – Some people do not see how it could be possible to successfully treat drug addiction through the use of other medications. The fact is that in nearly every method of detox involved in drug addiction treatment, some form of medication is used to help with the process and limit withdrawal symptoms. Also, depending on the type of addiction being treated, there are many medications that are used successfully to help curb drug cravings and limit the chances of a relapse to make therapy more successful.
  7. There is One Form of Treatment That Will Work for All Addictions – If this were true, then every facility and treatment center would be employing the same methods for every patient. As much as people want to believe that this is true, different people have different drug-related issues and problems, and each may respond differently to a particular form of treatment. What may be highly effective for one person may not work for another, which is why many centers today take a more holistic approach to treatment, allowing for a more individualized treatment plan involving various types of therapies to see what works best.

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