Drug Addiction Myths - Drug Addiction

There are several myths surrounding drug addiction which we have listed below:

Myth: Drug addiction happens in people who have a ‘weak’ character or lack self-discipline.

Fact: There are people who appear to have an ‘addictive personality’ and therefore, are more vulnerable to drug addiction but this doesn’t mean that there is a weakness in their character.

The effects on the brain are so powerful that they control your every thought and action. Your addiction becomes the most important thing in your life. All drugs, from alcohol to cocaine and heroin change the chemistry and function of the brain so drug addiction is a disease rather than a personality defect.

Myth: Drug addiction occurs as a result of free will. You choose to become addicted.

Fact: You may enjoy a few drinks at the weekend but this becomes more than a few and ends up being a regular habit. What happens is that alcohol (or drug use) changes the chemistry of the brain so that the drinker feels compelled to have a drink.

Again this is due to the effects on chemicals in your brain which causes cravings and an uncontrollable need for a drink or a ‘fix’. Even that cup of coffee you have in the morning to kick start your system is a compulsion.


Myth: Addicts don’t need treatment as they could stop using drugs if they wanted to.

Fact: It is very difficult to stop an addiction. Someone who is dependent upon a substance such as alcohol or a drug means that they have effectively ceded control to that substance which now governs their life.

To start with an addict has to realise that they have a problem and once they do, they have to then agree to treatment.

Make no mistake about it; treatment for addiction is a long hard road to take. Someone who has been abusing drugs for a large part of their life will have altered the chemistry of their brain to the extent that they cannot function without their addiction. They live with the cravings and cannot face the thought of withdrawal from the drug as the symptoms of this can be worse than the addiction.

This means that they will require long term treatment which includes planning for any relapses.

This is why it is so important to intervene at an early stage of drug dependency especially in young people as they are much more susceptible to long term damage.

Myth: Addicts should only receive ‘one-off’ treatment.

Fact: Drug addiction is a complex and chronic disease which cannot be cured overnight. There are some people who can stop by themselves, by going ‘cold turkey’ but this requires a great deal of willpower and determination to do so.

Many people will require long term treatment and probably more than one session. People do relapse and give into their cravings but at the end of the day they are human. Support as well as treatment needs to be in place in order to deal with this.

Myth: Rehab and/or other treatments don’t work.

Fact: There is evidence to show that rehab and/or other treatments do work and result in many people beating their addiction. These people then go on to lead normal, drug-free lives.

Treatment also reduces the risk of contracting a disease such as HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis C which are particular problems for people who inject drugs.

Myth: An addict only seeks treatment when they have hit rock bottom.

Fact: Not necessarily. There are people who enter into treatment early on in their addiction as a result of pressure from family, friends or healthcare professionals.

In some cases the person with the addiction recognises that they have a problem and that they need to deal with it.

Myth: There should be a ‘one size fits all’ form of treatment.

Fact: No because everyone is different when it comes to the nature of their addiction and their response to treatment. Alcohol, cigarettes, drugs and even caffeine effect people in individual ways so that treatment needs to be geared towards their personal needs.

Someone with an addiction to cannabis requires different treatment to someone who is addicted to painkillers.

Even if two people are addicted to the same substance they will still react differently to its effects and subsequent treatment.

Myth: Addicts can complete rehab in a couple of weeks.

Fact: Recovery from drug addiction is a long process and isn’t achieved after a fortnight. Some people will require several forms of treatment compared to others and the duration will be determined by the nature of their addiction.

Myth: People who carry on taking drugs after treatment are a waste of time and will never beat their addiction.

Fact: Giving up an addiction is a very difficult thing to do and who is to say that anyone of us wouldn’t succumb to the cravings.

Admitting you have a problem is the first and most important step in what is a long and sometimes painful process. It is very easy to ‘fall off the wagon’ and give in to the cravings and even more so in the first few months following treatment. It is when a person is ‘clean’ or no longer needs a drink that they are at their most vulnerable.

How many of us have tried to diet and then given in to the temptation of a piece of cake or a bar of chocolate? We can either accept that we have blown it and give in altogether or like many of us do we accept that this can happen and get straight back onto our diet.

This is part of being human: it means accepting that we have flaws and do occasionally give in to temptation but are no less of a person for doing so.

The same applies to drug addiction. Someone who goes and has a drink after attending meetings at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is not a hopeless case but someone who is all too aware of their frailties.

In many cases several treatment sessions will be needed before that person successfully conquers their addiction but it can be done as countless people will testify to.


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