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Common Myths About the Disease of Addiction

a person sadly holds their head near a rainy window

Addiction is a major issue in the United States, affecting millions of people both directly and indirectly. Research shows that around 21 million Americans suffer from addiction, which can have a lasting impact on their own lives and the lives of the people around them.

Far too many people who have an addiction seek professional treatment, thanks in part to the many myths that persist about the nature of addiction and recovery. In this blog post, we will highlight some of the common myths about the disease of addiction.

If you are seeking professional rehabilitation for an addiction, your premier choice in San Diego is APEX Recovery. Let’s get started.

Myth: Addiction Only Affects Certain Types of People 

The reality is that the idea of an addictive personality is based on a mixture of fiction and truth. There is no one specific personality type that leads to addiction. Addiction does not discriminate and it is not right to put a blanket over all addicts, assuming that they have the same harmful personality traits.

Addiction can and does affect people from all walks of life. No matter a person’s ethnicity, income, religion, gender, age, profession, or family, they can be directly affected by addiction.

Many people believe that addiction is simply a character flaw that affects bad people. Again, this is false; addiction can and does affect people from every walk of life and with varying personalities and character traits.

Myth: Addiction Is a Choice

Unfortunately, the idea today that addiction is a choice and it only affects weak people still persists. It is true that addiction typically starts as a voluntary decision, for example when a person occasionally drinks. However, continued use of the addictive substance over time changes the brain, which results in compulsive and uncontrollable use of the substance.

Different parts of the brain are affected depending on the type of addictive substance taken. Today, addiction is understood to be a brain disease and it isn’t as easy as simply exercising greater control over one’s impulses. Let’s take a look at this idea. 

The brain’s reward system works to reinforce key survival behaviors. For example, when we eat, we are “rewarded” with the release of a chemical known as dopamine, which makes us feel good and encourages us to eat again in the future to receive the same holt of pleasure.

An addictive substance, which changes how the brain functions, triggers a far larger release of dopamine (up to 10 times more than normal). Over time, the brain will become less sensitive to dopamine and a greater level of craving will be felt to meet this pleasurable feeling.

Therefore, it is inaccurate to say that addiction is simply a personal choice.

Myth: Only Willpower Is Necessary to Beat Addiction

As we have highlighted above how the brain is directly affected and even changed by an addictive substance, it is clear that this myth is also untrue.

As we have learned, prolonged substance use will alter the way that the brain works, such as it sending signals of intense craving and the compulsion to take the substance. Because of this, it is difficult to quit the substance, and professional help and a treatment program is the best way to do this.

Simply encouraging a person to have the “willpower” to overcome their addiction will not be effective. It can be difficult for people around a person living with an addiction to properly understand just how difficult it is to overcome an addiction, particularly without professional help. 

Myth: Treatment Has to Be Voluntary to Work

Some people believe that people with an addiction can’t be “forced” into treatment, rather they must go willingly for treatment to have any chance of being successful. Again, this is a myth. Treatment does not have to be voluntary in order for it to be successful.

A person who is pressured into receiving treatment, whether by a family member, friend, or the legal system, is just as likely to benefit as someone who enters treatment voluntarily. 

When in treatment, a person stands to benefit from the professional support of staff members and the range of support available. Some of the options available when treating addiction include:

  • Medication
  • Behavioral counseling
  • Treatment for co-occurring mental health issues
  • Learning new outlets such as art and exercise
  • Long-term, follow-up care to prevent relapse

If someone you know and care about is struggling with addiction, you can help them greatly by ensuring that receive professional care. This is true even if the person is reluctant. 

Myth: Relapse Is a Sign of Total Failure

This is, of course, another myth that is not true. Just because a person relapses, it does not mean that they will unable to beat their addiction. It may just mean that the treatment approach needs to change.

When it comes to addiction, there is always hope. Most people who experience a relapse will end up returning to recovery.

Common Myths About the Disease of Addiction

Unfortunately, a number of myths still pervade today about the nature of addiction and the potential for recovery. Hopefully, the above information will help to quash some of these myths and encourage people in their fight against addiction.

To best way to tackle the disease of addiction is with a professional treatment program. If you are looking to learn more about treatment for alcohol abuse, substance abuse, or mental health, schedule a free consultation with us today. We don’t accept Medi-Cal at this time but do accept self-pay options.

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