4 Common Addiction Myths
Drug and alcohol addiction is a serious disease that impacts millions of people and their loved ones every day. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (SAMHSA) estimates that there are approximately 22.7 million people over the age of 12 who are currently struggling with an alcohol or drug problem.
While many have reached long-term recovery through effective addiction treatment, there are countless others who aren’t getting the care they desperately need. In fact, less than 1 percent of those battling substance abuse receive help at a specialized treatment facility. What’s keeping these individuals out of treatment?
Unfortunately, the subject of addiction is plagued with misinformation. These four common myths about addiction often act as a deterrent for those potentially seeking help:
Myth #1: Addiction is a choice.
Reality: People don’t choose to become addicted any more than they would choose to be diagnosed with heart failure. According to experts, 50 percent of addiction is based on genetics while other factors such as upbringing, environment, peer pressure and psychological disorders account for the rest.
While the initial choice to use drugs or alcohol may originate from a lack of judgment, the substance itself, combined with changes in brain chemistry, is what influences a person to continue their abuse. In other words, addiction is not a choice. However, addiction can be a manageable disease. With the right treatment, recovery is possible.
Myth #2: There’s an addiction gene and if you have it you’ll ultimately become an addict.
Reality: While experts believe that 50 percent of addictive tendencies are attributed to genes, there’s still no definitive evidence that genes alone cause a person to develop an addiction. Other contributing factors such as environment, trauma, family relationships and upbringing, mental health problems and peer pressure can lead a person into developing a drug or alcohol problem. While numerous factors can be involved, it’s important to remember that there are also many ways to successfully recover from substance abuse.
Myth #3: You must hit “rock bottom” in order to seek addiction treatment.
Reality: While hitting “rock bottom” may be the ultimate sign that you or a loved one needs help, it isn’t required in order to seek treatment for addiction. Alcohol and drug abuse take a perilous toll on the human body, and entering treatment sooner rather than later can be extremely beneficial to a person’s recovery. There’s no better time to seek help for substance abuse than now. Recovery is possible.
Myth #4: People battling drug or alcohol addiction are bad people.
Reality: Addiction is a multi-faceted disease that can affect anyone regardless of their age, race or gender. Mothers, fathers, teachers, children, doctors or firefighters — anyone can develop a drug or alcohol problem. It’s important to remember the multitude of ways in which a person becomes addicted to harmful substances. Despite the widespread assumption that people who abuse substances are doing it on purpose and are therefore weak-willed or immoral, that’s not always the case.
Common misconceptions can often make it difficult for people struggling with drugs or alcohol to get the help they need and deserve. A strong understanding of the myths that exist and the truth behind them can help open the doors for you or a loved one to overcome addiction and help reduce the negative stigma that society places on those struggling with substance abuse.
By Jenna Mitchell
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