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5 Myths about Substance Abuse and Addiction

Posted on :  October 1st, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Although there is more awareness about substance abuse and addiction these days, unfortunately, there are still plenty of misconceptions. Some common myths still exist, which can perpetuate ignorance and prevent people from seeking help. Here are five myths:

1. Addiction is a genetic disease that cannot be overcome

Addiction is very complex. It does act as a disease, which many people falsely perceive as incurable. They assume it is something one is born with and cannot change or overcome. However, an addict is not at the mercy of his or her genetics. Research indicates that genetics is responsible for 50 percent of an individual’s proclivity toward addiction, but there is no guarantee a person will become an addict.

If a person does suffer from addiction, it can be overcome. Addiction is a brain disease, meaning that chemical changes occur in the brain when one becomes hooked. These changes are treatable and reversible through medication, counselling and other methods. Although not always easy, one can overcome addiction.

2. Addiction is a lack of willpower

Another damaging myth is that addiction is simply a lack of willpower. This myth harkens back to the idea of “just saying no.” Saying no to drugs and alcohol isn’t so simple. The abuser rarely feels as if he or she has an actual “choice.” Choice seems impossible because the drugs have already hijacked the brain, causing chemical changes, which make it practically impossible to resist using. Incessant cravings and endless compulsions make it difficult for someone to quit by the force of will alone.

3. Addicts must hit rock bottom before seeking help

Conventional wisdom says that addicts must hit “rock bottom” before seeking help. This idea is also a myth. After all, what exactly is “rock bottom?” Does it mean that a substance abuser must be at death’s door before he or she undergoes treatment? If that were the case, it could be too late.

Treatment can (and should) be sought at any time. It is never too early to begin recovery, and the sooner one starts, the better. Reversing addiction becomes much more challenging the longer a person has been abusing drugs or alcohol.

4. One cannot force an addict into treatment

Ideally, addiction recovery should be willingly chosen by the substance abuser, but that is not always possible, nor practical. Many people are pressured or forced into treatment by family members, employers or under dictates from the criminal justice system.

However, just because these individuals are undergoing treatment under someone else’s terms, doesn’t mean recovery won’t be successful. In many cases, once a person starts to sober up, he or she gains a clearer perspective on things and then willingly embraces change.

5. Relapse equals failure

Sadly, many people assume that relapse equals failure in treatment. When a setback occurs, many addicts become discouraged and quit. Outsiders may also view a relapse as an unsuccessful treatment and question either the validity of the program or the so-called willpower of the substance abuser.

By no means is relapsing considered a failure. In many ways, it’s like learning to ride a bicycle. Just because the rider falls off doesn’t mean he or she will never be able to ride. Addiction recovery is similar. People will fall off the proverbial bicycle many times before learning to ride successfully.

Recovery is a process that often involves setbacks. These bumps in the road are not an indication of failure, or that someone is a hopeless case. They are simply challenges that need to be addressed, either by getting back on track or adjusting treatment methods. It’s no different than getting back on the bicycle or adding training wheels. The important thing is to keep going.

If live in or around Hamilton, St. Catharines, or Brantford, Ontario, you can make the first step by contacting Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589 to locate your nearest clinic and kick start your journey. Make sure you have an unexpired OHIP card or call 1-866-532-3161 to find out how to get one.

Towards Recovery Clinics Inc. (TRC) is an Ontario addiction treatment centre with the philosophy to help individuals take control of their addiction and help them rebuild their lives and careers.

Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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