We all know that the opioid epidemic is still sweeping through the country and there are millions of Americans suffering from substance abuse of some kind. We may even know someone who has been affected by it. While the stigma of drug addiction isn’t what it once was, there is still so much that people do not understand. Here are just a few of the stereotypes that surround drug abuse and the facts associated with them.
Myth 1: A person can stop whenever they want to. It’s 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 use substances that cause dopamine levels to increase. This creates dependence on the drug and stopping suddenly causes physical and mental withdrawal which is serious and potentially dangerous. Medically supervised detox is needed.
Myth 2: You can always spot an addict.
Fact: Addiction affects every social class and income bracket. When asked what an addict looks like, most people will describe the same type of person: homeless or living in squalor, unemployed, criminal, unclean, and generally unsuccessful. This could not be further from the truth. Many addicts are successful, professional people who become masters at leading double lives. According to the CDC, heroin use has increased faster among those making $20K-$50K than among those making less than $20K per year. Addiction can affect anyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or employment status.
Myth 3: Prescription medication is always safe.
Fact: Prescription medication can be just as addictive and deadly as street drugs. Almost 50 people die each day from an overdose of a prescription medication such as Vicodin or Oxycodone. Many of those who are addicted to heroin started with prescription medication either prescribed to them or someone else. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that almost 80 percent of Americans who are using heroin misused prescription medication first. It’s not only prescription opioids that are addictive. Benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and sleep aids all have the potential for addiction. It is extremely important that if prescribed any of these types of medicines that you follow your doctor’s instructions on proper dosage. If you have unused medication it should be properly disposed of and if a medication is not prescribed to you, do not take it. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported in a 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health that over 50% of people who misused prescription opiates received them from a friend or family member.
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 aren’t in need of help yet. They want to have a revelatory experience where they realize that things have to change and this is the moment where they’ll seek treatment, but why wait for things to fall apart before trying to make them better? Don’t wait until you’ve lost your job, your home, or your loved ones. You could even lose your life. It only takes one use and one dose to do so. Especially for those addicted to opiates, the danger is increasing. 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’s no way to know if what you have is tainted or not, and it’s being found all across the country. If you suspect that you may have a problem, start getting help right away.
Myth 5: No one can help an addict but the addict themselves.
Fact: While it’s true that no one can force a person to quit using, friends and family do have significant influence whether they realize it or not. People 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.
- Speak to them in a positive way when talking about their addiction. Let them know that you believe change is possible.
- Be encouraging. Making them feel worse about themselves isn’t going to help them to stop.
- Educate yourself on addiction and their 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’ll 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 doesn’t work.
Fact: Residential inpatient treatment programs are highly effective forms of treatment for many individuals. Rehab isn’t simply a place to go where there isn’t access to drugs, but a medically supervised, science-based approach. At Clearbrook Treatment Centers, patients start with an individualized detoxification treatment program during which they are monitored 24/7. Once they are cleared by the medical team they begin their rehabilitation treatment. During rehab, they receive both group and individual counseling and learn how to cope with stressors in their life without using drugs or alcohol. Families are also able to participate in treatment through our Clearbrook Family Program.
Contact Clearbrook For Addiction Treatment
While there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to erasing all of the stigma associated with drug addiction and alcohol abuse, there has been so much progress in recent years. If you yourself are struggling, or you know someone that is, please know that there is hope. For 45 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing quality treatment to the chemically dependent person.
Nestled in the beautiful mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania, you or your loved one will have the opportunity begin your journey to wellness in a serene and peaceful environment. If you are ready to take the first step to change your life, please contact our Admissions Specialists today.