5 Most Common Misconceptions About Addiction

December 22, 2018

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Misconceptions About Addiction

If we are going to increase awareness and understanding about substance abuse, the first thing to do is let go of our outdated misconceptions about addiction.  These misconceptions also cause many addicts to avoid getting the treatment they need. Today, according to NIAAA, only about 2.5 million of 22.7 million addicts get professional help for their addictions.

What Are the Most Common Misconceptions About Addiction?

Undoubtedly, fear, guilt, financial problems, and mistaken beliefs about the effectiveness of treatment all affect a person’s decision to pursue recovery.  So, let’s try to clear up some of these misconceptions or myths surrounding addiction and treatment in the hopes that even one addict will change their mind and seek help.

Myth #1:  Addicts are all unemployed and homeless.

Fact:  Many addicts have families, careers, and pay their bills.  These individuals are referred to as “functional addicts”.  NIAAA categorizes about 19.5 percent of all alcohols as functional.  Also, about 8 percent of full-time and 10.2 percent of part-time workers abuse illicit drugs.  Workplace drug use has reached about 19 percent.  Some of these individuals have high paying jobs in powerful positions.

Myth #2:  Addicts could quit if they really wanted to.

Fact:  Experts agree that willpower alone is not enough to overcome an addiction.  Most addictions are comprised of physical dependence as well as an emotional dependence.  Recovery is not possible unless the individual learns the skills to cope with daily stress and triggers.  Treatment should include medically supervised detoxification followed by a long-term rehabilitation program.

Myth #3:  Addicts don’t need treatment until they hit “rock bottom.”

Fact:  This is one of the most dangerous misconceptions about addiction so far.  “Rock bottom” is different for each addict.  Waiting for this to happen can cause the person to reach a point where it’s too late.  No one should wait until they are homeless or have overdosed before seeking help.  For one thing, the longer they wait, the harder recovery will be.

Myth #4:  A person chooses to continue using substances.

Fact:  The initial decision to experiment with a substance is usually a voluntary choice.  However, each successive use is generally initiated by withdrawal symptoms.  These symptoms make it difficult or impossible to discontinue use without professional help.  The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) describes addiction as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry.”  Therefore, addictive substances affect a person’s ability to consistently abstain from using.

Myth #5:  Prescription drugs aren’t as dangerous as illegal drugs.

Fact:  This is also a dangerous misconception about addiction.  In fact, prescription drugs are just as dangerous as any street drug.  In fact, the chance of overdosing on prescription pills is higher, especially if taken with other drugs or alcohol.  Currently, the US is in the midst of what is known as a prescription opioid epidemic that has taken more than 165,000 lives since 1999.

Be Aware of the Traits of Drug Addiction

Many drug users believe they have their habit under control.  They are in denial about the extent of the problem and fail to seek help before it’s too late.  If you or a loved one is currently experimenting with addictive substances, watch for these traits of addiction:

  • Impaired behavioral control (lying, aggression, agitation)
  • Cravings for the substance of choice
  • Inability to abstain from using a substance
  • Dysfunctional emotional response
  • Shifting the blame for their substance abuse
  • Significant problems with interpersonal relationships

An addict’s behavior is often frustrating, baffling, and frightening.  Although we may not understand why they act this way, their drug use will manifest in some erratic, bizarre, and criminal behaviors.  The person is not consciously choosing to behave in this manner.

Find Hope for Recovery at New Beginnings

Not only is addiction tragic, but it is chaotic, and painful for everyone involved in the addict’s life.  But, there is hope.  Try to understand that addiction is not a choice, and help your loved one seek treatment today.  At New Beginnings, we know what it takes to help a person overcome their misconceptions about addiction so they will trust our treatment program.  Contact us now to find your new beginning.

Resources:

asam.org – Definition of Addiction

niaaa.nih.gov – Alcohol Facts and Statistics

counseling.cua.edu – Common Drug Misconceptions and the Truth

yalemedicine.org – 3 Major Myths About Opioid Addiction

nytimes.com – The Addictive Personality:  Common Traits are Found

stjosephinstitute.com – 6 Personality Traits Linked to Addiction

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