In a world often clouded by misconceptions and stereotypes, the stigma surrounding addiction is constant. A combination of prejudice, media portrayal, and a simple lack of education has greatly contributed to the many addiction myths out there. As a result, many people with substance use disorders hesitate to seek out the care they need. To break down stigma and bring awareness to the challenges of addiction and recovery, our Clearbrook Pennsylvania rehab is sharing why everything you think you know about addiction is wrong.
Everything You Thought You Knew About Addiction Is Wrong
Myths about addiction are the result of a combination of misinformation, societal stigma, and oversimplified narratives. These myths can contribute to misconceptions that hinder our ability to address addiction effectively.
People’s tendency to rely on unreliable experiences or dramatized media portrayals can lead to an inaccurate understanding of addiction’s complexities. The truth about addiction is not simply weak willpower or a moral failing. Rather, it is a multifaceted issue influenced by genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.
Below we are debunking common addiction myths to show you why everything you think you know about addiction is wrong.
Myth 1: A person can stop whenever they want to. It is mind over matter.
Fact: Addiction is a disease and much more complicated than simply wanting to stop and doing so. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines addiction as: “a compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.”
Abusing drugs such as heroin and cocaine floods the brain with dopamine, and after a short time, the brain becomes used to these increased levels so much so that normal levels are considered a deficit. This causes a need to maintain the new “normal” levels of dopamine, and the only way to do that is to continue drug use.
The body becomes dependent on drugs because of long-term use, meaning it becomes physically reliant on the drug to feel “normal.” At this stage, the individual will experience withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to quit or cut back suddenly. Withdrawal symptoms along with cravings and psychological dependence can make it difficult for an individual to get sober without professional care.
Myth 2: You can always spot an addict.
Fact: Addiction affects people of all ages, races, ethnicities, backgrounds, etc. This means that anyone can be an addict.
However, when asked what an addict looks like, most people will describe a person who is homeless or living in squalor, unemployed, criminal, unclean, and generally unsuccessful. But this could not be further from the truth.
Many addicts are successful, professional people who become masters at leading double lives. According to a 2015 study, individuals with an annual household income of $75,000 or more drank more than individuals in income brackets of $30,000 to $74,999 and less than $30,000 (78%, 67%, and 46%, respectively).1 This means that anyone of any background can succumb to addiction.
Myth 3: Prescription medication is always safe.
Fact: Prescription medication can be just as addictive and deadly as street drugs. According to the CDC, 44 people died every day from prescription opioid overdoses, totaling more than 16,000 deaths.2 Additionally, many individuals who are addicted to heroin started off using prescription drugs.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that almost 80 percent of Americans who are using heroin misused prescription medication first.3 However, it is not only prescription opioids that are addictive. Benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and sleep aids all have the potential for addiction.
Therefore, it is imperative that individuals take any prescribed medications as directed by their doctor. If you have unused medication, it should be properly disposed of and if a medication is not prescribed to you, do not take it.
Myth 4: A person needs to hit “rock bottom” before they seek help.
Fact: The earlier a person starts to get help the less damage will be done. Sometimes people put off getting help because they feel that their life is still manageable, and they do not need help yet. Many even think that they don’t need help until they’ve hit rock bottom, but why wait for things to get to that point?
Don’t wait until you have lost your job, your home, or your loved ones. It only takes one use and one dose to lose your life. Especially for those addicted to opiates, the risks are high.
As little as a few granules of fentanyl is enough to lead to a deadly overdose, and opiates everywhere are being laced with it. There is no way to know if what you have is tainted or not, and it is being found across the country. If you suspect you are addicted to any medications, our prescription drug addiction treatment can help you get clean.
Myth 5: No one can help an addict but the addict.
Fact: While it’s true that no one can force a person to quit using, friends and family do have a significant influence whether they realize it or not. Whether through court-ordered rehab or searching for treatment facilities, you have the power to either help improve the situation or make things worse.
If you are trying to help a loved one with addiction keep the following in mind:
- Stay consistent with rules and expectations and follow through with consequences. Making it easy for them helps no one.
- Positively speak to them when talking about their addiction. Let them know that you believe change is possible.
- Be encouraging. Making them feel worse about themselves is not going to help them to stop.
- Educate yourself on addiction and your substance of choice. Learn about what their drug does to the body and the brain and learn about the consequences of abuse. The more you know the more you will be able to genuinely empathize with them and their situation.
- Make yourself an ally, not an enemy. Don’t chastise them or try to shame them into seeking help. They need to know that you’re on their side.
Myth 6: Rehab does not work.
Fact: Rehab does work, it is just a matter of finding the right kind of treatment. For instance, residential addiction treatment is best suited for individuals who require a higher level of care due to the severity of their substance use disorders. This includes individuals who check off boxes for severe addictions, co-occurring disorders, limited support at home, medical concerns, high relapse risk, and the need for medical detox.
As a Northeast addictions treatment center that offers residential treatment and other addiction services, we determine the best form of care for patients by conducting a clinical assessment. This is how we learn how severe their drug use is, the state of their mental and physical health, and other factors that can affect their recovery.
Contact Clearbrook For Addiction Treatment
The truth about drug addiction is that it’s a complex disease that can affect anyone. While there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to erasing all of the stigma associated with drug and alcohol abuse, there has been so much progress in recent years.
If you are struggling, or you know someone that is, please know that there is hope. For over 40 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing quality treatment to chemically dependent people.
Nestled in the beautiful mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania, you or your loved one will have the opportunity to begin your journey to wellness in a serene and peaceful environment. Call Clearbrook today at 570-536-9621 or contact us online to get started.
- Gallup – Drinking Highest Among Educated, Upper-Income Americans
- CDC – Prescription Opioid Overdose Death Maps
- National Insititute on Drug Abuse – Prescription opioid use is a risk factor for heroin use