Drug abuse is a very complex behavioral pattern that is often misinterpreted by the public as well as the person with the addiction. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIH) “addiction is a brain disease.” So if it is a disease why are drug addicts and alcoholics often treated as second class-citizens or even criminals. You wouldn’t treat a diabetic the same way and diabetes is definitely a disease. NIH rationalizes that addicts are mistakenly portrayed as people who lack moral principles or willpower. They are further stigmatized as people who could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior.
This lack of understanding of addiction cuts both ways. People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol do not understand how to treat themselves and hold many of the following stereotypical beliefs that actually derail their attempts at recovery.
It is no secret that people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol often suffer from a very harsh stigmatization perpetuated by the uninformed public. In an effort to support people underneath the proverbial microscope below you will find four myths about drug and alcohol abuse that undoubtedly deflate a person’s morale who is attempting to attain sobriety. By being aware of these myths and answers just may make someone’s recovery a little easier.
4 myths about drug addiction:
1. You can overcome addiction strictly with will power
While will power does play a vital role in addiction recovery, it is critical to understand that excessive drug or alcohol abuse can lead to the altering of the brain’s natural chemical balance. This change in brain chemistry makes it extremely difficult for addicts to stop abusing with just their will power alone. As addicts stop using drugs and alcohol they will experience a drastic physical and mental change in their body. When they begin to experience withdrawal symptoms it is very easy to relapse and return to their addiction.
“Many people think that what the addict needs is willpower, but nothing could be further from the truth.”
— Arnold M. Washton, Ph.D.
The article: “How To Overcome Addiction And Make Lasting Changes In Your Life,” in the Huffington Post confirms this ideology.
Let’s face it. We are all addicted to something whether it is chocolate or whiskey. According to psychological research, your willpower is like a muscle. And without use it will suffer from atrophy. As a result, by the end of your stressful days, your willpower muscles are drained and you’re left to your defenseless self — with little control to stop the urges for lets say a beer or marijuana joint for example.
When it comes to achieving goals like sobriety what you really need is commitment which involves:
- Investing upfront
- Making it public
- Setting a timeline
- Installing several forms of feedback and accountability
- Removing or altering everything in your environment that opposes your commitment
2. Addiction is a disease and there is nothing you can do about it
Many can agree that addiction is a disease that specifically affects the brain. With that being said it doesn’t mean you cannot overcome it or be treated for it. Similar to other diseases there is treatment for addiction to ensure a safe recovery. If you are thinking with this mindset try to do some research and discover about all the countless people that have defeated their addiction. You can start by visiting the Inspirations for Youth and Families testimonials page which is filled with great recovery stories.
3. Addicts must hit rock bottom before getting help
A person who has an addictive personality and comes from a family of addicts can be proactive and start learning about how to avoid drug addiction or alcohol abuse before it manifests itself. Also, teens who are in the early stages of drug or alcohol abuse need to be treated very carefully and put on a short leash. Read our article about how long it takes to become addicted to drugs or alcohol.
It does not take much time for a casual drug or alcohol user to become a full-fledged addict. Inspirations for Youth and Families treats many teens that are not addicted to drugs. The parents are being proactive because they believe their teens are in the danger zone and are taking the necessary precautions.
4. Treatment didn’t work the first time so why go again
Recovery is a long and rigorous process that often becomes a matter of trial and error. It is not like you are studying to pass your drivers exam. It’s more like you are a coach of a professional basketball team where there will be highs and lows throughout the season and you can not take one set-back too hard or else you will have less of a chance of winning games.
There will be many disappointments and obstacles to tempt you away from staying sober, but this doesn’t mean you should give up on sobriety. Relapse doesn’t signify that treatment isn’t working – it’s a sign that you should be adjusting your approach to fit your life and ensure the best possible results. Inspirations treats many teens that have been to countless addiction treatment centers and have flourished under our system. A teen and family must understand that not all drug and alcohol abuse treatment centers are created equal.