Myths of Addiction
ANYONE WHO USES DRUGS OR ALCOHOL TOO MUCH OR TOO OFTEN WILL BECOME ADDICTED
We know this does not occur in everyone, any more than diabetes occurs in everyone who eats too much sugar or food.
Research shows that the risk for developing alcoholism or drug addiction does indeed run in families. The genes a person inherits partially explain this pattern, but lifestyle is also a factor. Currently, researchers are working to discover the actual genes that put people at risk for addiction. Your friends, the amount of stress in your life, and how readily available alcohol or drugs are also are factors that may increase your risk for addiction.
But remember: Risk is not destiny. Just because addiction tends to run in families doesn't mean that a child of an addicted parent will automatically become an addict too. Some people develop addiction even though no one in their family has a drinking or drug problem. By the same token, not all children of chemical dependent families get into trouble with alcohol or drugs. Knowing you are at risk is important, though, because then you can take steps to protect yourself from developing problems with substance abuse.
ALCOHOLICS OR ADDICTS CAN STOP DRINKING OR USING SIMPLY BY ATTENDING MEETINGS.
The key word here is "simply." Going to meetings does not work for everyone, even for the many people who truly want to stop drinking or using drugs. For most people the entire process is a gut-wrenching, lifelong battle working the steps. Scientists theorize that people who get better from this process, are somehow learning to overcome (or compensate for) their brain disorder.
ADDICTION IS TREATED BEHAVIORALLY, SO IT MUST BE A BEHAVIORAL PROBLEM.
New brain scan studies are showing that behavioral treatments (i.e. psychotherapy) and medications work similarly in changing brain function. Addiction is a brain disorder that can be treated by changing brain function through several types of treatment.
MARIJUANA IS NOT ADDICTING.
In a recent study, addiction to marijuana has been shown to parallel addiction to cigarettes and alcohol. Marijuana abuse can also have other negative effects. In the study, teenagers who started abusing marijuana regularly at age 13 earned about 37 percent less at age 29 than teenagers who abstained or had light, infrequent usage.
TREATMENT DOESNíT WORK.
People who fear or donít like the behavior associated with addiction are quick to point out that relapse (falling off the wagon or resuming drug use or drinking), often occurs, so therefore treatment doesnít work. We need to remember that relapse also occurs with other disorders and diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and hypertension.
CLUB DRUGS (ECSTASY, GHB, SPEED AND LSD) ARE NOT VERY DANGEROUS.
Emergency room reports indicate they are very dangerous, especially when mixed with alcohol.
ALCOHOL AND DRUGS CAUSE ADDICTION.
While alcohol use is required to trigger alcoholism, the majority of the population can drink alcoholic beverages with no danger of suffering from it. One of several other factors must exist for alcohol use to develop into alcoholism. These factors may include a person's social environment, emotional health and genetic predisposition.
ADDICTS OR ALCOHOLICS CANNOT BE MEDICALLY TREATED.
Actually, addicts and alcoholics are medically detoxified in hospitals all the time. But can they be medically treated after detox? New FDA approved medications such as Naltrexone and Vivitrol have been developed to reduce the cravings associated with addiction. These medications also reduce the chance for relapse and enhance the effectiveness of techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy.
ADDICTION IS A WILL-POWER PROBLEM.
This is an old belief, probably based upon wanting to blame addicts for using drugs and alcohol. This myth is exploded by scientific proof that addiction occurs in a subconscious area of the brain that is not under conscious control.
ADDICTS AND ALCOHOLICS ARE BAD, CRAZY OR STUPID PEOPLE.
That statement is as correct as saying someone with cancer or diabetes is bad, crazy or stupid. ADDICTION IS A BRAIN DISORDER THAT HAS NO CURE, BUT CAN BE MEDICALLY TREATED. A POSITIVE, PRODUCTIVE LIFE CAN BE ACHIEVED AND MAINTAINED.