Myths About Drug Addiction
What are some myths vs. realities about drug addiction? There are many, but a few big ones are:
- Myth: Drug addicts are homeless, unemployed, or basically losers. Truth: Anyone can become addicted to drugs, including doctors, lawyers, and teachers.
- Myth: People who use drugs can’t change. Truth: Change is always possible with the right treatment and continued support, and provided the person is willing to get that help as long as needed.
- Myth: Drug addiction can be cured. Truth: Addiction to any substance is a chronic brain disease that can be managed with counseling and sometimes with medication, but relapse is always possible. Surrounding yourself with caring, competent clinicians and loved ones can help you maintain long-term sobriety.
If you’ve never dealt with drug addiction in your personal life, either through your own drug abuse issues or those of a close family member, you may have some preconceived notions about the subject. There are a number of popular myths about drug addiction that many of us take as fact, simply because we’ve never been faced with the truth before. To better understand what drug addiction is, and what it is not, let’s take a look at some of the most popular myths concerning drug addiction.
Myth #1: Drug Addicts Are Homeless, Unemployed and All-Around Losers
The fact of the matter is that drug addiction can happen to anyone. It can happen to you, to a member of your family, to your local pastor, your family physician, and your next door neighbor. It can happen to your children. Drug addiction is a chronic disease of the brain, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It does not discriminate.
There is no way to determine who will, or who will not, be affected. If an individual chooses to use drugs, they are at risk for developing addiction – period.
Three Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Drug Use
Do you think you might have a problem with drug abuse? Is it possible that your recreational use of drugs has grown into an addiction? Ask yourself these questions and give yourself the benefit of honest answers. According to the diagnostic characteristics for drug addiction, if even one of these characteristics applies to you, you could have a serious medical condition. If you are concerned that you have a problem, please contact us so we can guide you to a program that can help you.
- Do you choose to use drugs over spending time with your family or meeting your responsibilities for school or work?
- Do you use drugs even in dangerous situations, such as when driving a car?
- Have you ever been arrested because of your drug use, either for behavior related to drug use or simply for possessing drugs, but you still continue to use drugs?
- Do you continue to use drugs even though your social and family relationships are suffering? Does your drug use cause family fights and other interpersonal problems?
Myth #2: People Who Use Drugs Can’t Change
In 2009, the United Nations studied the differences in the effectiveness of punishment for drug addicts and the concept of treatment as an alternative to punishment. The study resulted in a published paper discussing the issue from the standpoint that the scientific research promotes health care as a more reasonable and effective reaction to drug addiction.
Recovery is not just a matter of willpower, however. Significant changes in the way the brain works, and the sometimes debilitating and painful symptoms of withdrawal, can make quitting incredibly difficult. With help, a person who has become addicted to substances like narcotics, alcohol and other drugs can learn to live without drugs in their lives.
Some of the most effective and recommended types of treatment include:
- Counseling: Individual and group therapy are both effective, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Medications for the treatment of withdrawal: Some medications can alleviate the most severe withdrawal symptoms, while others may act as a substitute for the illicit drug in the system, thereby reducing the desire to use the more damaging drug.
- Participation in recovery groups: Organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have been shown in studies conducted by the University of California to decrease episodes of relapse.
- Behavioral therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy was originally developed to treat alcoholism, but it has been modified to include treatment for many types of addiction. According to the NIDA, the new skills developed during this type of therapy stay with the recovering addiction after the treatment has stopped, giving the addict a better chance to avoid relapse.
Myth #3: Drug Addiction Can Be Cured
Unfortunately, as declared by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there is no cure for the disease of addiction. There are significant treatments available, however, in a wide array of styles and programs. With treatment, those individuals who have been affected by addiction can learn to readjust their lives to living without drugs or alcohol. Some programs may require an inpatient stay in a residential facility, while others may offer long-term outpatient recovery services. Still others may include holistic healing practices in tandem with evidence-based approaches such as cognitive behavior therapies, group therapies and medications.
The sooner an individual suffering from addiction gets the help they need to stop using drugs, the better off they will be. Some of the physical changes to the brain that occur with drug use last for a lifetime, so getting help quickly is paramount to success. If you’re ready to find that help, call us today.