Think you understand addiction? There’s a good chance your knowledge about addiction comes from popular culture and myths that aren’t grounded in the reality of substance abuse and addiction. Check out these common myths and see how your understanding measures up.
Myth: Addicts use drugs to escape problems.
According to DrugAbuse.gov, addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease. People begin trying drugs and alcohol for many reasons, and becoming addicted has nothing to do with an individual’s personal situation. While it’s true that initial drug use or alcohol use might be a form of escape, anyone can become addicted.
Myth: People with high alcohol tolerance won’t become addicts.
Becoming addicted to alcohol doesn’t just happen to people who become drunk easily. Being able to drink large amounts of alcohol without appearing or acting drunk can actually be a sign of alcoholism. If you or a loved one shows signs of alcoholism, look into treatment resources.
Myth: People who relapse after drug and alcohol recovery are hopeless cases.
It can be discouraging when relapse occurs after successful treatment of substance abuse, but this isn’t the end of the road. Addiction is a treatable disease, and if relapse occurs, individuals have to begin treatment again. It’s not uncommon for people to have to go through treatment for addiction more than once.
Myth: Addiction is a bad choice.
Addiction is a disease, not a choice. It has physical symptoms, just like any other disease. People who choose to stop abusing drugs and alcohol experience withdrawal and may suffer painful, debilitating side effects. It takes support and treatment to overcome addiction, and it isn’t just a matter of having stronger willpower or making better choices in life.
Myth: After recovery, addicts are back to “normal.”
Most addicts require various forms of treatment and therapy throughout life. Addiction treatment isn’t a simple cure. Many addicts continue going to forms of group therapy and counseling on an ongoing basis. In addition, the effects of abuse of drug and alcohol can have permanent effects on the brain and body.
Myth: Legal drugs are helpful.
Over the counter and prescription drugs provided by doctors can be just as addictive as illegal street drugs. Prescription painkillers can be highly addictive and highly dangerous, frequently leading to death from overdose, accidents and drug interactions.