Myths of drug abuse abound, but knowing the truth is essential for helping yourself or someone you love recover from a drug or alcohol addiction.
Myths of drug abuse are harmful on many levels. Friends and family members of an addicted individual often don’t understand their loved one’s addiction, and they act in ways that are counter-productive for recovery. Likewise, people with addictions often don’t get the help they need, because they’re misinformed about addiction or about how treatment works.
Getting to the truth requires examining myths of drug abuse and addiction so that individuals and their families can make informed decisions that result in recovery. Here, then, are six common myths of drug abuse and the truth behind them.
1. People with an addiction can stop using if they just use their willpower.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse stresses that good intentions and willpower are rarely enough to end an addiction for the long-term. Professional help is almost always needed. That’s because addiction is the result of changes in the brain’s chemical functions and physical structures that lead to compulsive drug use despite negative consequences. Once an addiction sets in, willpower is rarely strong enough to achieve long-term abstinence.
2. Anyone who uses drugs or alcohol on a regular basis is addicted.
One of the most common drug abuse myths is that abusing drugs is the same thing as being addicted. Addiction is a diagnosable disease that’s characterized by the inability to stop using drugs or alcohol even though they’re causing problems in your life. You may want to stop, and you may try to stop, but you find you can’t. Drug abuse can lead to addiction, but using drugs doesn’t mean you are addicted. Debunking myths about addictionand addiction requires understanding that these are two separate things. Substance abuse is the act of using drugs in an unhealthy or dangerous way, whereas addiction results in compulsive drug use despite negative consequences.
3. You can tell someone’s addicted just by looking at them.
The idea of the down-and-out, living-on-the-street drug addict is outdated, and it’s plain wrong. Doctors, police officers, CEOs, soccer moms, pastors, straight-A students, and grandmas and grandpas can–and do–develop addictions. Addiction does not discriminate, no matter what the myths about addiction say.
4. If you can hold down a job, you’re not really addicted.
This is one of the most common myths of drug abuse. The idea that you have to hit “rock bottom” before you’re considered addicted is plain wrong, and it can lead people who are addicted to believe they’re not addicted. The truth is, many people who are addicted are “high-functioning addicts.” Because a job is an individual’s source of income that allows him or her to continue the addiction, it’s usually one of the last aspects of an individual’s life to be affected by the addiction. Addiction is a progressive disease, and it almost always gets worse down the road.
5. Once you’re addicted, there’s nothing friends or family can do to help.
Friends and family members of an addicted individual can help by being honest with their loved one. They can encourage their loved one to get help, and they can help him or her get out of denial about an addiction. If all else fails, they can stage an intervention, which has a high success rate when facilitated by a professional. Once in recovery, the support of friends and family members is a major factor for successful recovery.
6. There is no hope for someone who’s addicted.
Of all the drug abuse myths, this one is perhaps the saddest. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services stresses that hope is the very foundation of recovery. Hope for a better, happier future free of addiction is what drives people to get help, and it’s what drives friends and family members to offer support. Many, many people successfully recover from addiction, including opioid and alcohol addiction.
There is always hope for a happier, healthier life after addiction. if you need help ending a drug or alcohol addiction, White Sands can help.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.