Unfortunately, myths about addiction are still spreading, which then causes confusion or pose more questions. We’d like to clear a few of them up!
In this article, we’ll take a closer look into these common myths, and debunk them right away!
In this day and age, with unlimited educational resources, it’s hard to believe there are still myths about addiction. Starting in elementary school, kids are being educated on addiction and how they can both be treated. From billboards to television advertisements, our society is doing a great job reducing the stigma of addiction.
Unfortunately, the message has not reached everyone. There are still some common myths that need to be debunked to avoid spreading the wrong message to those in need.
Keep reading to find out how you can prevent the spread of misinformation about addiction.
Myth 1: A Person Who Can’t Quit Using Drugs On Their Own is Weak
Truth: Mind-altering substances like drugs and alcohol change how the chemicals in the brain work. The brain naturally produces neurotransmitters or “happy chemicals” like dopamine. Using a scale of one to ten, some brains can deliver a level of 10, while others produce a level of 5.
When someone takes a drug like an opioid, or drinks alcohol, the brain produces happy chemicals at a level that is off the charts, well above a 10, making your whole body feel better than it has ever felt before. You feel high.
When this effect starts to wear off, your brain will do whatever it can to convince you to use the same substance to get the same high.
Not being able to overcome the obsessive thoughts and cravings created by your brain does not make you weak; it makes you ill. Addiction is a brain disease that should be treated like any other disease.
Myth 2: If Addiction is a Disease, Nothing Can Be Done to Fix It
Truth: There are many types of treatments to help addicts overcome the adverse effects of their disease. Addiction, like all other diseases, takes months, maybe even years, to control. For some, it is a disease that will need treatment for the rest of their lives, just like diabetes or other autoimmune disorders.
It’s essential to encourage those in addiction recovery to continue their treatment, even when they feel fine. If someone has cancer and claims they have no symptoms, we don’t tell them to quit treatments. The same should be valid for the disease of addiction since relapses are always possible.
Myth 3: Addicts Must Hit Rock Bottom Before They Can Get Help
Truth: Some addicts will never hit rock bottom. They have experienced numerous negative consequences, yet they continue to use it. Don’t give up. Instead, create a rock bottom for them.
It is rare to meet an addict who can remain addicted on their own. You, or someone, is enabling them. Giving them money, paying for their cell phone, driving them to meet their dealer, or the liquor store are all examples of enabling.
You can give them an ultimatum, start treatment, or face their new rock bottom. If they don’t choose treatment, you must create an environment for the addict that makes it impossible for them to continue their drug use.
Because treatment facilities are equipped to ease withdrawal symptoms during detox, going to treatment will become a viable option for the addict.
Try to remember it is not important how or why they go into treatment. An addict is not thinking clearly. The only thing on their mind is getting high and avoiding withdrawal symptoms. Just get them there.
Once in treatment, their minds will clear, and the addiction professionals can begin to help them into recovery.
Myth 4: An Addict Only Needs Detox to Stay Sober
Truth: Detoxing from drugs or alcohol is a short period when the toxins from the substances exit the body. This creates a painful experience, mentally and physically, for the addict. Medical detoxes are crucial to success.
Detox lasts for about a week, sometimes less. Just because their system is clean doesn’t mean they won’t continue to crave. That’s why long-term treatment is the only way to secure sobriety. Think of it this way, the more time they spend away from their drug of choice, the higher the chance of successful sobriety.
If you go on a diet for two days and then enter a bakery full of sweet-smelling cakes, you will likely dive headfirst into a bunch of calories, wrecking your diet. However, if you took a year to change your lifestyle to include healthy actions, from proper nutrition to exercise, you could walk into that same bakery, choose a sugar-free item, and feel more satisfied.
The same is true for addiction recovery. If a person starts with a week of detox, then three months of inpatient rehabilitation, six or more months of sober living, they will be more capable of staying sober long-term.
Myth 5: Relapses Are Devastating
Truth: Relapses can feel devastating, but they don’t have to. Relapses are often a realistic event in many addicts’ lives. No matter what you do, some people will find it too hard to overcome their cravings. They forget to use the skills they learned in treatment.
Relapses don’t have to become a downward spiral, however. If a relapse happens, immediately deal with it. Don’t wait for the problem to become worse to try and help. The sooner an addict can get back into treatment, the quicker they can get back on the road to success.
Sometimes, returning to a sober home is all that is needed to get back on track. They know all about relapse prevention. And more importantly, they know what to do to stay sober.
Living a sober lifestyle takes practice. Sober homes provide those opportunities.
No matter where a person is on the addiction spectrum, help is available. Whether they have been to treatment five or more times, whether they have just started using, or if they have been brought back from the dead, help is available.
Treatment facilities are ready to meet any addict at the place they are today. All they have to do is take the first step and call for help. They deserve support.