Common Myths About Addiction
I, myself, have heard many myths about addiction. For example, I have heard that all addicts are bad people, addiction is nothing but a choice, or an addict must hit rock bottom to succeed in recovery. These are myths, and I want to go over why they are myths.
The first one we will start with is “addiction is a choice.” Choosing a substance you know is addictive is a choice. However, it isn’t a choice once you get to the point you are physically dependent on that substance. You start to believe that whatever drug you are taking is solving a problem for you. Then you get to a point where you need more of that substance in order to achieve the same effects as before. At that point, the addict is merely trying to survive. When someone is coming off something, like alcohol, if they stop cold turkey, they will experience physical and psychological signs and symptoms from that withdrawal. The person can become irritated, and their autonomic nervous system becomes disrupted, which then can result in seizures that can be life-threatening. It is extremely dangerous, and it becomes a chore to keep up with trying to survive.
Another one is “Drug addicts are terrible people.” During their addiction, this can be true. The thing with addiction is it changes who you are. One day you look in the mirror, and you no longer recognize the person staring back. In my experience, recovering addicts are some of the most compassionate people because they understand hard times and are more sympathetic to those struggling. They want to help because they know the guilt, shame, and regret that accompanies addiction. During addiction, addicts can be bad people, but that doesn’t define who they truly are.
Another myth about addiction is that you would be able to tell if someone close to you was addicted. People act differently on drugs or alcohol than usual, but some people are better at keeping it together than others. There were times when I was in active addiction, and the people around me knew something was off, but they had no idea what they were facing. It wasn’t until I finally came clean that all the pieces were put together. Addiction seems obvious when you think of a homeless person on the streets with track marks on their arms. But some people can cover it and hide what they are doing with it going unnoticed for a while. Eventually, it will surface, but it may take time. So, it’s essential to know the signs of drug or alcohol use.
Some people think alcohol addiction isn’t as bad as drug addiction. That is false. Even though alcohol is socially accepted compared to heroin addiction, it doesn’t make it better. Alcohol withdrawal is one of the most dangerous to go through. You could die from it if you aren’t in a medically safe environment. With alcohol being so socially accepted, many think it’s not that bad because you can go to the liquor store and buy alcohol, and there is no heroin store to purchase heroin. But that doesn’t make it better. It often makes it easier for the addiction to go unnoticed. People can replace bottles making it look like they aren’t drinking, or put the alcohol in a cup of coffee at work. Alcoholism is just as bad if not worse than drug addiction, and we, as a society, have not only made it okay but, to some degree, have glorified it. There are not many people who could say they have not had a ball cap or t-shirt that didn’t have the name of alcohol or a beer on it.
Another myth is that you must hit rock bottom to have a successful recovery. While that may sound true, it’s not. Many addicts have been given ultimatums and decided they didn’t want to lose everything. In my experience, I was told I could live in my car or go to treatment. But every addict is different, meaning not every addict has to hit rock bottom to have a successful treatment. Some get tired of living the way they were and know they need to change their ways. There is no blanket way to say whether someone’s treatment will be successful or not.
The last myth we will cover is that you should keep your addiction a secret. People tend to think that family, coworkers, or friends will judge them if they admit they have a problem. In my experience. Most want to see their family, friends, or coworkers doing well. It’s hard to know someone you care about is struggling. But knowing they did something about it and overcame it is an accomplishment and is typically seen as such. Someone who judges someone on the fact they are or were an addict isn’t a true friend anyway and may be, in fact, enabling your addiction. Most families want to see their loved ones succeeding, not struggling.
The most important thing I hope you get out of this is that everyone is different. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all when it comes to addiction. No addiction is less than another. They all impact differently but are nonetheless deadly. Addiction should not be taken lightly, and getting your loved one into treatment is vital before it’s too late.
If you or a loved one are seeking treatment, reach out for help. There is an end to addiction, the first step is reaching out.