Wherever there is information there is also misinformation, myths and urban legends. The worst thing about these addiction myths is that they are so widely accepted. Many addicts believe them too, and that can harm their recovery.
Addiction Myth #1 Addiction is genetic
About half the addictions we come across may be caused by a genetic predisposition to addiction but it’s all too easy to misinterpret this snippet of information. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
Just because there’s a history of addiction in your family doesn’t mean that you are fated to become an addict. Some addicts won’t even seek help because of the ‘in your genes’ theory. After all, if it’s genetic, it can’t be cured, right? Wrong!
The other side to this myth is that some people place themselves at risk of addiction because there’s no family history of addictive behavior. They actually believe they can’t become addicted. Bad mistake!
Addiction Myth #2: Once an addict, always an addict
This belief lies at the root of the stigma that some uninformed people hold against recovering addicts. It also stops addicts from reaching out for help, especially if they’ve tried to quit once before and relapsed. The fact is, most people can and do recover from their addictions.
Saying that you’ll always be an addict just because you are one now is about as logical as saying it’ll always be December because it’s December now.
Addiction Myth #3: Addicts should be punished
This myth originates from the belief that addicts are bad people. That’s not necessarily the case. You get good people and bad people in any group of people, and addicts are no different.
Yes, they may have done foolish things that caused their addiction, but now they have a real medical condition and what they need is help rather than punishment. Addiction can drive people to do terrible things, but that’s because they’re addicted, not because they’re natural-born villains.
Some addicts are so angry at themselves, that even they believe they ought to be punished. Get help. When you’ve recovered, you can find ways to make amends for any bad things your addiction drove you to do.
Addiction myth #4: Prescription drug addiction is ‘safer’
The whole problem with prescription drug addiction is that people continue with medications for longer periods than they are supposed to for the sake of their heath.
As time goes on, they start taking bigger or more frequent doses – and the results can be as fatal as any heroin overdose. Dead is still dead. Addiction to prescription drugs such as painkillers can be as dangerous as addiction to other drugs.
Addiction Myth #5: Addicts need to hit rock bottom
Firstly, ‘rock bottom’ means different things to different people, so this is hardly a scientific indicator. Next up, the sooner an addict gets treatment, the better. Waiting for some mythical ‘rock bottom’ experience could be the death of you. Recognize your problem and get help as soon as you can.
Addiction Myth #6: Rehabs spoil addicts when they should be punishing them
This particular myth always makes my hair stand on end. Seriously. What are these people thinking of? A lot of people end up as addicts specifically because of self-esteem issues and a shortage of constructive outlets that help tem relax.
To me, the counselling and occupational therapies that some rehabs offer is what makes them get such good success rates. Believe me, the nightmare of addiction is unpleasant enough in itself. Rehabilitation centers should always be positive places that offer support, encouragement and a pleasant environment in which to learn important life lessons.
Addiction Myth #7: Being an addict is fun and that’s why addicts don’t quit
If you’re an addict or have been one, you’ll know that this last myth is an absolute howler. Fun? Yes, sure. Desperate cravings, horrible after-effects, scary side-effects, knowing that you’re killing yourself a bit at a time, depression, ruined relationships and more are all part of the ‘fun’ of being an addict.
Don’t let untrue addiction myths stop you from getting help
You can beat addiction. You’re not a naturally ‘bad’ person. Rehab can be the single most positive experience in your life. What could be better than getting yourself back on the right track? Addiction is a disease, and sick people need help. If you’re an addict, don’t delay. There is no time like the present. You can’t do much about yesterday, but you can make a life-changing decision today.