What you may think you know about addiction may be nothing more than a myth, a stigma, a misconception. In a recent article on Healthy Region, five of those popular myths are debunked by Dr. David Sack and put into terms we can all understand by author Amy Kenney. In debunking these myths, we also need to leave them behind, spread the word and think in new ways about what addiction means and how if effects those who suffer from it and their loved ones, as well. As Sack says, "Honest, courageous and insightful aren't words typically used to describe drug addicts. But if given the chance, many addicts end up developing these qualities and contributing to society in a way they never imagined possible. These successes occur in spite of major obstacles, from the ever-present threat of relapse to the pervasive stereotypes addicts encounter along the way."
Myth No. 1: People with substance-use disorders are morally corrupt and should be punished.
Sadly, addiction doesn't make you a bad person, but unfortunately, many people are seen that way. Addiction can cause users to make bad decision and choices, but treatment can help them get better. Punishing someone who is suffering from a disease is not the answer or the solution.
Myth No. 2: People Choose to Become Addicts
Do people choose to have cancer? Choose to have sickness? No. Addiction, as Kenney puts it, is a brain disorder. Using drugs changes the chemistry of the brain, which makes it hard for the user to stop using. Many times, addiction is a genetic disease. No one asks to become an addict. But many don't know how to stop being one.
Myth No. 3: People usually become addicted to just one substance.
Kenney states it's actually three or more substances that people become addicted to. Whether it's mixing drugs for a more intense high, or mixing to help come down from a particular drug, many times just one substance is not the case. For many, addiction comes about as a form of self-medication to fix what is wrong with them internally.
Myth No. 4: People who get addicted to legal prescription painkillers are different from people who get addicted to illegal drugs.
Just because it comes from a doctor and is legal does not mean it cannot yield the same addictive effects as illegal drugs. Currently, the U.S. is facing an opioid epidemic because of overprescribed prescription painkillers.
Myth No. 5: There's a right way to treat addiction, and it usually involves "putting addicts in their place."
There are may ways to treat addiction, but shame is not one of them. Therapy is a must. And many times drugs like Vivitrol are also necessary to give the user a fighting chance against their addiction. In today's society, we are rethinking the way to handle those who suffer from addiction. For now, prison sentences are being replaced by therapy and treatment. It's about helping the addict get clean, not punishing them for the disease they are victim to.
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