MYTH: Overcoming addiction is a matter of willpower. An addict can stop using drugs if they put their mind to it and just stay strong. FACT: Prolonged exposure to drugs alters the brain in ways that result in powerful cravings and a compulsion to use. These brain changes make it extremely difficult to quit by sheer force of will.
MYTH: Addiction is a disease; there’s nothing a person can do about it. FACT: Most experts agree that addiction is a brain disease, but that doesn’t mean we’re a helpless victims. The brain changes associated with addiction can be treated and reversed through therapy, medication, exercise, and other treatments.
MYTH: Treatment doesn’t work. FACT: Treatment can help. Studies show drug treatment helps reduce drug use, decrease criminal activity, and improve the prospects for employment. Treatment also provides education and helps people self-evaluate. It is important to remember that treatment is not magic, quick fix or a cure, however the goal of treatment is to help those suffering from addiction to learn better coping skills as well as reduce some of the health, financial and societal problems that their addiction causes
MYTH: Addicts have to hit rock bottom before they can get better. FACT: Recovery can begin at any point in the addiction process; he earlier, the better. The longer drug abuse continues, the stronger the addiction becomes and the harder it is to treat.
MYTH: You can’t force someone into treatment; they have to want help. Treatment doesn’t have to be voluntary to be successful. People who are pressured into treatment by their family, employer, or the legal system are just as likely to benefit as those who choose to enter treatment on their own. As they sober up and their thinking clears, many formerly resistant addicts decide they want to change. Research has shown that the outcomes for those who are legally mandated to enter treatment are quite good, and not much different from non-mandated clients.
MYTH: Treatment didn’t work before, so it won’t work now. Recovery from drug addiction is a long process that often involves setbacks. It is unrealistic to expect that change will happen overnight or in a week or two. Relapse doesn’t mean that treatment has failed, or that there is no hope for recovery. It’s a sign to get back on track, go back to treatment, or adjust the treatment approach.
MYTH: Addiction is a character flaw. FACT: Addiction is a brain disease. Evolving research shows that addicts are not bad people who need to get good, but they are people with a brain disease that goes beyond their use of drugs.
MYTH: Addicts who continue to abuse alcohol/drugs after treatment are hopeless. FACT: Addiction is a chronic disorder; relapse does not mean failure. Stress or exposure to substance can easily trigger a relapse. Addicts are most vulnerable to drug use during the first few months immediately following treatment.