Misinformation about treating drug and alcohol abuse is prevalent in the United States. Cutting through the myths and focusing on the facts can help you gain a better understanding of the science and medicine behind addiction, as well as provide real insight into what the addiction treatment process for this disease entails. Read on for the real facts disproving some common myths related to the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.
Myth #1 Drug Addiction Is Voluntary
While it’s true that the initial decision to use drugs is a choice, the fact remains that continued use of drugs makes fundamental changes to the chemistry of the brain, leading to both physical and psychological changes that alter a person’s ability to make a choice. When afflicted with the disease of addiction, users are no longer able to independently stop using drugs excessively, instead, a comprehensive medical and behavioral treatment program is often the means to treat and put an end to drug and alcohol abuse.
Myth#2 Drug Addicts Should Be in Prison
Although the United States has a long history of punitive measures for dealing with drug addiction and crimes related to substance possession, it is true that people with an addiction have a brain disease, but rather than imposing harsh prison sentences, substance abusers should be rehabilitated in a medical setting. Addiction treatment is necessary to reprogram the neural pathways that have been damaged by drug and alcohol abuse.
Myth #3 Addiction Is Always Genetic
While it’s true that addictive behavior has some genetic component, only approximately 50 percent of people with drug or alcohol addiction have a family history of addiction. Researchers still have yet to discover why some people develop drug and alcohol addiction while other substance users do not become addicted. There is no way to predict who is at risk for drug addiction.
Myth #4 People Who Use Drugs and Alcohol Are “Bad”
“Drug and alcohol users are bad” is a cornerstone of the drug education we present to young children in the United States about drug and alcohol use. Truthfully, those accusations are unfounded. The fact is that more than 80% of Americans younger than age 18 will try alcohol and/or illegal drugs; however, that does not prove that those 80% have also committed any crimes or done anything unlawful. Educated discussions, rather than instilling fear, are necessary to curb the addiction issue, and more likely prevent drug and alcohol abuse.
Myth #5 Substance Abusers Must Hit “Rock Bottom” Before Entering Treatment
In many cases, we hear that the people in our lives, who have fallen to addiction, must be allowed to hit “rock bottom” before they will consent to entering a treatment program. While it may be the last resource for someone who is experiencing his or her lowest point, anyone at any stage of drug or alcohol abuse can benefit from an addiction treatment program. In fact, experts believe that the sooner a person with an addiction receives treatment, the more likely they are to remain sober.
Myth #6 Drug and Alcohol Abusers Are “Cured” After Treatment
There is no one-size-fits-all cure for addiction because factors vary in all circumstances. In many cases, drug and alcohol abuse are chronic illnesses for which a person may have to undergo multiple rounds of addiction treatment in order for sobriety to be achieved.
By understanding the true facts about addiction treatment, it can be easier to seek help. If you are struggling with addiction or have a family member who needs help to overcome drug and alcohol abuse, talk to your doctor. He or she can help provide you with resources for education and treatment.