The Top 5 Myths About Addiction

Fact or Fake

Addiction is a heated topic that has touched nearly everyone’s life in some way. It’s emotional, and often misunderstood. Add to this the fact there’s a ton of outdated, and downright false ideas about it. What you have is a recipe for myths, and I’m going to give you the most common ones…

People are powerless over their addiction

One of the main precepts of AA is also one of the biggest stumbling blocks for addicts. If you believe this, then why even bother getting help? The truth is, people recover from addiction every day, so this can’t be true. If people were powerless over something, they couldn’t conquer it. Ever.

We aren’t talking about cancer here. Even THAT can be beaten, but certainly not with a defeatist attitude. Addiction is a behavior pattern which can be interrupted and changed by the person. The choice to go to rehab, abstain from all drugs, stay away from negative influences, are all choices and actions that a person CAN DO. These put the addict back in control and therefore NOT powerless. Why would you ever give someone such a victimized outlook, even in the case of something like cancer?

Rehab only works when a person is ready

False, false, false. You’ve heard it. We all have. Who started perpetuating this rumor? I’ve had people tell me it’s just common sense; “everybody knows that”. This is THE MOST COMMON and HARMFUL LIE that exists out there about addiction. People believe this, and stop trying to help save a person’s life based solely on this myth. And, a lot of people die because of it.

Drugs significantly cloud a person’s judgement and make them less rational. Driven by fear and hopelessness, the addict continues to use daily as an escape from life. They are scared to quit, and most don’t want to because they can’t picture facing life without their coping tool; drugs. Deep down, all addicts are suffering and don’t want to be a drug addict. They are just stuck in a rat-race of avoidance, fear, and drug-induced irrationality. Of course, they “aren’t ready”!

Interventions work because they break this cycle by pressuring a person who “isn’t ready” into going to treatment. Once at treatment, and off drugs, rationality begins to return, and the cycle is broken to a degree allowing treatment (and rational thought) to occur. Good treatment helps restore the person’s purpose and gives them new coping tools, so life sober is better than when they were on drugs. Every day I work with people who “weren’t ready” but now have achieved long-term sobriety. So, again…this one’s completely false.

You can’t force them to stop

Yes, you literally can. There are professional interventionists who are expert at removing all the escape routes an addict uses to continue his or her addiction. You may not know this, but intervention in real-life is not what it looks like on TV. There are legal, medical, financial, and logistical methods of getting a person to go to treatment, and interventionists are pro at it. While some may not agree with these methods, I say when someone’s life is on the line, you do whatever it takes to save them. And intervention is a popular and effective way to make this happen.

Once an addict, always an addict

This one’s simple. A drug addict is someone who habitually uses drugs despite negative consequences. So, if you aren’t using drugs… you’re not an addict. To label someone an addict for life is counter-productive and instead of encouraging growth and freedom, gives the person a sense of stigma and doom. Seriously, what’s the point?

This isn’t to say the person, after rehab, can now safely use drugs again. I am, by no stretch of the imagination recommending that. I’m saying life after addiction is in fact possible. It does not have a be a struggle full of labels and daily reminders one is flawed and disabled. You are not an addict if you’re not using drugs! You don’t keep saying that your leg is broken 2 years after it’s healed. You say it WAS broken.

Relapse is a part of recovery

And finally, we arrive at the ultimate in irony. This gem of an oxymoron must have gotten started by an addict who really wanted an excuse to keep relapsing. Seriously, I can tell you from firsthand experience this single quote is frequently used as a justification by addicts to keep using drugs. And families believe it because it is taught and rehabs! I can also tell you it doesn’t have to be this way, as there are plenty of people who’ve gotten clean and never gone back.

Honestly, would you start a diet whose mantra was “getting fat is a part of our weight loss program”? Talk about discouraging.

These lies are destructive and do nothing to help people beat addiction. Why these have become the backbone of traditional substance abuse treatment and are so popularized is beyond me. It’s as if we don’t want to believe it can be beaten. Or we’ve tried, and failed, and cling onto these excuses.

But it can be beaten! Are you ready for something different? Call us!


Joe Kertis

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Joe has worked at Narconon New Life Retreat for the past seven years, since his relocation to Louisiana. As the Intake Supervisor, he helps families and individuals through a very difficult time and take their first steps to a new, drug-free life. Get in touch with Joe on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.