If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, you’ve probably heard a lot of well-meaning advice from people who don’t truly understand. This makes it difficult to sort out the facts about drug abuse from fiction.
Clearing the air about addiction myths can help people better understand the realities of substance use and offer more compassionate assistance to those in need. Here are nine myths about addiction that you might believe — and the realities behind these thoughts:
Myth #1: If you have an addiction, you don’t have enough willpower.
For centuries, addiction has been seen as a moral failing. The common belief has been that those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol simply aren’t strong enough to overcome it. Some people believe that there is something inherently wrong with a person who struggles with addiction.
Today we understand addiction very differently. Modern science has shown that addiction is a disease, not a choice.
Myth #2: Prescription drugs are safe drugs.
When used under a doctor’s supervision, prescription drugs can be effective for treating pain or other conditions. However, these drugs can be dangerous when abused, especially by teens and young adults. According to a report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, among young adults aged 18–25, 14% used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons within the past year.
Commonly abused prescription drugs include ADHD medications, narcotic pain medications and drugs intended to treat anxiety. Unfortunately, abuse of these drugs can be deadly, with nearly five young adults dying each day from prescription drug overdose. Prescription medications have the potential to be as addictive and deadly as illicit drugs.
Myth #3: You can’t get addicted to marijuana or vaping.
Some people believe that vaping is not addictive, but the reality is that vaping involves consuming nicotine, which is addictive and results in cravings, according to research from Johns Hopkins and other leaders.
Marijuana may also be viewed as a non-addictive drug, but it is possible to develop a dependence on this substance. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that as many as 30% of people who use marijuana will become addicted. If you display symptoms such as intense marijuana cravings, being unable to reduce your use, or missing work because of marijuana use, you may have an addiction to marijuana.
Myth #4: Detox is enough.
Detox is the time period when you focus on getting all of the toxic substances out of your system. This process can result in uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, it’s best to detox at a recovery center, or at least in an outpatient setting, so doctors can monitor your symptoms and intervene if necessary.
But it doesn’t end there. Getting sober is just the first step on the road to recovery. Staying sober — that’s the next challenge.
Myth #5 Rehab doesn’t work.
Some people would rather try to fight through their addiction on their own than seek treatment because they believe rehab is a waste of time.
With dedication, addiction treatment can be an effective method of both initial cessation and continued sobriety. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states, “Research shows that about one-third of people who are treated for alcohol problems have no further symptoms one year later. Many others substantially reduce their drinking and report fewer alcohol-related problems.”
Rehab isn’t just a place. It’s an education and a lifestyle. It’s where you gain the skills you need to combat cravings, and where you get a taste of what your life can look like without addiction.
It’s a team of compassionate doctors and clinicians who are ready to help you take back your freedom. That kind of focus is powerful.