Addiction recovery is a difficult, life-changing process and addicts need all the support they can get as they work to heal themselves. Unfortunately, many of the myths that surround drug use and addiction hamper the progress of those in recovery. Misunderstandings about addiction as a disease and about what it takes to manage this disease keep addicts from entering recovery and perpetuate the cycle of substance abuse within our communities. Debunking some of these myths will provide the understanding that is necessary to treat provide treatment and to avoid addiction in the first place.
Myth #1: People who struggle with drug addiction are weak
Addiction is a disease that affects all types of people, regardless of their moral fortitude or strength of character. Biological and environmental factors play a large part in determining who will form an addiction to a substance and it’s impossible to predict who will be affected the most. Dependence is not a choice; no one would choose this way of life. It is a sickness that needs to be treated with the help of professionals.
Myth #2: Only bad kids use drugs and it’s impossible to stop them
Approximately 80% of children in America try drugs or alcohol at some point. Whether an addiction takes root as a consequence of this experimentation depends on several factors, many of which are beyond the child’s control. Prevention is the best way to avoid underage drug use and the best way to do this is to candidly address the reasons that kids use drugs in the first place. Discussing with kids the negative consequences of drug use and how to deal with stress management and peer pressure has been shown to be a valid deterrent.
Myth #3: 12-step programs are the only successful way to treat addiction
While 12-step programs like AA have been shown to be a very useful tool in addiction recovery, they’re not the only tool available. Medications used in addiction treatment have also been shown to increase success rates. They can help with withdrawal symptoms, mental illness, and other problems that feed into addiction. Psychological and behavioral treatments need to be part of a successful recovery plan. Whether additional treatment options are used with or without a 12-step program will be based on the individual needs of the addict.
Myth #4: Marijuana is a harmless, non-addictive substance
Recent talks about legalizing marijuana have given many people the false impression that it is harmless and non-addictive. Even if marijuana is legalized, it will still be inappropriate in large quantities and for young people. Abuse of marijuana can lead to a myriad of health problems, especially in younger users.
Myth #5: Drug addicts need to hit rock bottom in order for treatment to be effective
This myth has been perpetuated for decades and has left a huge death toll in its wake. Addiction treatment can be beneficial and successful at any stage. Waiting for an addict to hit rock bottom before suggesting treatment is putting their life at risk. Many people have succumbed to the disease of addiction and died as a result. The best time to enter addiction treatment is any time. Stopping this disease as early as possible is the best way to improve and save lives.