Drug addiction is a unique topic to discuss because no two people have the same experiences with it. Some people are able to use recreational or prescription drugs without developing a dependency or suffering negative effects. Many others fall into the path of addiction, but how it happens and what course it takes varies from one person to the next.
Most experts agree that addiction is a disease of the mind, with some people being more predisposed than others. Still, this doesn’t mean that you have to fall victim to an addiction if the risk factors are in the cards. By understanding addiction and your role in managing your behavior, you can work through an addiction or avoid a dependency altogether.
Let’s discuss five common myths about drug addiction and what the real facts are behind them.
Myth #1: Addiction is a disease of the mind, and there’s nothing you can about it.
People experiment with drugs for a variety of reasons. Some do it to have fun, ease a problem or out of peer pressure. Just because you try a drug doesn’t mean you will automatically get hooked; the number of uses it takes to form an addiction varies by the individual. That said, recreational drugs cause the dopamine levels in the brain to surge, creating the feel-good effects. Some people are more genetically wired to form an addiction faster, and it may only take one or two uses before they are dependent on the drug.
No one knows what kind of person they are until they experiment with drugs, which is why it’s recommended to abstain from them entirely. But, if you do try drugs and become addicted, that doesn’t mean you have to be vulnerable and give up hope. The brain can be treated and even reversed with therapy, conventional medication, exercise and other alternative treatments. You may have to work harder at staying sober than the next person, but it is 100% possible.
Myth #2: Drug or alcohol addicts are weak individuals that choose not to be sober.
There’s nothing worse than dealing with an addiction and feeling powerless in the process. People who are addicted do not have a lack of willpower. What happens over time is that the drug alters the chemistry in the brain, creating powerful cravings and a compulsion to use the drug. These changes are strong enough to interfere with work, school and family relationships, and the individual is no longer in control of their thinking. Instead, the drug is. Addicts need behavioral and cognitive therapies to help repair the brain, making sobriety a reality.
Myth #3: Addicts need to hit rock bottom before they recognize the severity of their problem.
Literature often suggests that addicts need to hit rock bottom before they can admit their addiction and welcome treatment, but this isn’t necessarily true. Getting help earlier on is better because the addiction is not as out of control. The longer drug abuse continues, the harder it is to change these behaviors. Sometimes it takes losing it all to see the severity of the addiction, but there’s no need to wait until this happens. The sooner the addiction can be treated, the better.
Myth #4: Relapse is inevitable, and at this point, the treatment has failed.
Rates of relapse are high for addiction, but we are learning more and more about treating addiction, and we hope to see these rates go down. It was once believed that only the symptoms of the addiction needed to be treated, but holistic treatment centers like The River Source understand the importance of treating the whole individual – mind, body and spirit – and offering a variety of naturopathic treatment techniques. While relapse is common, it is NOT a necessary component in recovery.
If relapse does occur, this does not mean that the treatment has failed. Many people are able to get back up again and achieve sobriety. In fact, relapse can prompt a necessary change in the aftercare plan or a wake-up call for the recovering addict and their family. It’s important to strive for long-term sobriety without relapsing, but know that if it does occur, it’s not the end of the road.
Myth #5: An addict cannot be forced into drug rehabilitation. The choice must be theirs.
Again, this is a topic where literature often suggests that addicts cannot be pushed into treatment. While it’s an ideal situation that the addict is willing and open to residential treatment, most addicts are not happy about the idea. They may be scared of what will happen to them or anxious about facing reality. Still, treatment can be just as effective whether it’s voluntary or not. In fact, many people need this push.
Addiction can be difficult to understand because it is so complex and individualized. While recovery is something that must be actively worked on, achieving a fulfilling lifestyle without the need for drugs and alcohol is within reach for everyone.