01 Oct Four Myths About Addiction
What do you really know about addiction and treatment? Unless you have been intimately involved in walking beside a recovering addict, chances are that your ideas on the subject are far from fact-based. There is a lot of confusion and downright misinformation surrounding addiction and addiction treatment. Here are just a few of the most common misunderstandings.
1. An addicted person could choose to stop taking drugs if he/she really wanted to do so.
Addiction to drugs or alcohol may began with a choice. However, along the way that choice morphed into a compulsion. Over time and with repeated use, the substance effected literal brain changes which now impact how the person thinks and responds – and it isn’t the same way a healthy person would think and respond. More than sheer willpower is needed to conquer addiction. The addiction is actually an ill-fated attempt to cope with some sort of pain. Until that pain is addressed, no strength of will can overcome the behavior of addiction.
2. Addiction is just a reflection of a person’s moral failure.
Addiction is certainly a hurtful condition. It hurts the user and it hurts everyone around them. While it may seem like a simple matter of character to choose to stop hurting the people you love, it is actually more helpful to view the addiction as an illness. Many addicts feel tremendous guilt about the hurt they are causing even while they feel powerless to change. The person did not set out to hurt others, even though their addiction ultimately does affect more than themselves. The great sadness of addiction is that while the person hurts so many, they are also in one sense a victim.
3. Until a person reaches the end of his/her rope, help is useless.
It’s easy to lump people into categories and forget that addicts are people and people are different. It is not true that every person struggling with addiction has to get to the end of themselves before treatment can be effective. Some people respond very well to early intervention. Family or court insistence that a person get treatment can rescue a person before they hit bottom. In fact, a lot of people in treatment did not initially choose to be there – it was imposed on them. The good news is that once a person begins to see some success, they find hope.
4. Addiction is an unconquerable, permanent condition.
Do some treatments fail? The answer is yes. But, it may be that the treatment was simply the wrong one for that individual. There are many approaches to recovery because there are many variables in the human psyche and in human experience. Addiction is tough to beat and it is perhaps best to think of it as a chronic condition – but it isn’t destined to rule someone’s life forever after. People can learn to overcome addiction and live sober. Hope is the very greatest weapon in overcoming addiction. The loss of hope is the surest road to relapse. Keep in mind that addiction did not happen in a day and it won’t be overcome in a week.
Find relief in recovery. Life gets better with addiction treatment.
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