Myths About Addiction

a mousetrap symbolizing addiction

Addiction is something that is very easy to stereotype, if only because it is something that can difficult to understand from an outside point of view. However, what we don’t realize is how damaging our perception of addiction can be to the addicts themselves and their hope for recovery. Here are some of the biggest myths about addiction and why we should stop believing them.

Addiction is a choice.

While the original act may have been something that was chosen, by the time someone is a true addict, this is not the case. According to research, long-term substance abuse actually alters the brain chemistry of an addict, which makes it extremely difficult if not impossible to resist the intense cravings and compulsions and stop using on your own without outside help.

Addicts deserve to be punished.

There is a great deal of hostility towards addicts, and a harsh attitude about their choices since people seem to believe that addicts have somehow brought this upon themselves. While it is true that many addicts will do terrible things, such as lie, cheat, and steal to maintain their habit, it must be kept in mind that these acts are driven by the changes in the brain that are brought on my prolonged drug use. Rather than be punished, addicts need help and treatment in order to get better.

Addiction is a disease that can’t be helped.

Just like cancer is a disease of the body, addiction is a disease of the brain. And while fighting back against these types of diseases can be a struggle, this does not mean it is hopeless. Nothing is impossible, and even the brain damage that is caused by prolonged substance abuse can sometimes be reversed through abstinence, therapy, and other forms of treatment. It just takes time and patience.

Addicts can’t be productive members of society.

The typical stereotype of an addict is someone who is unemployed, involved in criminal behaviors, and homeless. While this may be true for some, this is not the mold that should be applied to all addicts. There are many addicts who continue to function in society by remaining employed, providing for their families, being involved in social activities, and do not appear to be an addict on the outside at all. These people are sometimes referred to as “high-functioning” addicts. 

Addiction only affects people who are weak, uneducated, or have low morals.

While it is easy to believe that addiction is not something that could happen to you, it is important to realize that addiction does not discriminate. Addiction can affect the lives of people from all ages, ethnicities, cultures, religions, communities, and socioeconomic statuses. While it is common for addicts to behave in ways that violate their personal beliefs, values, or morals, this does not mean that addiction only affects those with low morals.

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