Alcohol and drug addiction, or substance use disorders, are mental health diagnoses that can impact both individuals living with addiction and their loved ones. While getting help through treatment is effective for many, a lot of people may never get the help they need due to the stigmas that surround substance use disorders and treatment for these issues. In this blog, we identify and address a number of the myths that surround addiction and treatment, providing truth and knowledge to people who are living with addiction and their families. This way, help can be sought and individuals living with substance abuse can find hope in overcoming addiction.
Some myths that surround alcohol and drug addiction that may be keeping people from getting the help they need include:
Using Alcohol and Drugs Every Now and Then Doesn’t Lead to Addiction
There are many people who have used drugs and alcohol on an occasional basis but never developed addiction – that is true. However, for people who are predisposed to addiction either by genetics, history of addiction, concurring mental health issues, etc., using drugs and alcohol, even on a regular basis, can and does lead to substance use disorders. Some people have addictive personalities or use addictive substances to cope with unwanted emotions which can also lead to substance use disorder. Not everyone can use addictive substances every once in a while and expect to never become addicted – addiction forms over time and with every use, a person is more likely to develop a physical dependence on addictive substances which leads to a cycle of addiction.
Opioid Addiction Only Develops in People Who Already Struggle With Addiction
While it is true that people who have struggled with addiction previously are at a higher risk of becoming addicted to opioids, this isn’t the case for every person who becomes addicted to opioids. In many cases, people are prescribed opioids by prescription and end up becoming dependent on these substances legally. Once their prescription runs out, they find other ways to use opioids as their bodies start to withdraw. Thus, leading to a cycle of addiction. Therefore, opioid addicts aren’t simply people who have already been using drugs or alcohol on the streets – they are people from all walks of life, every race, every profession, and every religion. Addiction, even opioid addiction, does not discriminate.
Only Weak People Need Help for Addiction
One of the biggest, most hurtful stigmas that surround addiction is that people who need help for addiction are considered weak. Many people assume that people who are struggling with addiction can just choose to stop using – but it’s not that simple or easy. When a person is living with addiction, they experience withdrawal when they stop using, which can be excruciatingly painful. Furthermore, quitting “cold turkey”, or without treatment, can even be deadly to some people. Getting treatment can help to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal and also provide individuals with coping strategies, education, and support as they begin their recovery journey. Therefore, getting help for addiction is never “weak”, in fact, it is the opposite. Choosing to get help is a very strong and brave thing to do and unfortunately, due to the horrible stigmas surrounding getting help, many people never do.