Myths About Drug Addiction

Myths about drug addiction abound. Here, we sort through common drug abuse myths and find the facts.

Drug abuse is the act of using drugs, including alcohol, in a way that causes problems in your life. These problems may be related to your relationships, finances, or physical or mental health. Or, they may stem from legal trouble or other problems resulting from the risks you take while seeking out drugs or while under the influence. Myths about drug addiction are common, but knowing the truth about drug abuse myths is essential for protecting yourself.

Here are some of the most common myths about drug addiction and the facts behind them.

Myth: Prescription drug abuse is safe because a doctor prescribed it.

Fact: Prescription drug abuse is just as dangerous as abusing illegal drugs. In fact, prescription painkillers alone caused 183,000 overdose deaths between 1999 and 2015, and the number of people who die from a prescription overdose is steadily increasing each year.

Prescription drugs are only safe when they’re used exactly as prescribed by a doctor. Using someone else’s prescription, or using prescription medications to get high, is a dangerous form of drug abuse, and it’s just as illegal as using illicit drugs like heroin or cocaine.

Myth: Drug abuse will only lead to addiction if it runs in your family.

Fact: One of the most common myths about substance abuse is that if addiction doesn’t run in your family, you probably won’t become addicted. The truth is, genetics only accounts for about half of your risk of becoming addicted. Other factors involved in developing an addiction include your biology, environment, culture, and personality.

Myth: People who abuse drugs are immoral.

Fact: People use drugs and alcohol for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, that use turns to abuse, but this is usually due to underlying issues, such as chronic stress or mental illness. You can abuse drugs and still be a moral person with high values.

Myth: Alcohol abuse is safer than drug abuse.

Fact: Using any mind-altering substance carries health risks, legal risks, and the risk of addiction. Alcohol abuse is particularly dangerous due to alcohol’s negative effects on your health, safety, and wellbeing. More than 88,000 people die every year from alcohol-related causes, and this doesn’t include the number of people killed in alcohol-related car accidents. The legality of alcohol doesn’t make it any safer than any other drug.

Myths About Drug Addiction

Heavy drug abuse can result in addiction. Addiction is characterized by compulsive drug or alcohol use despite the consequences. If you’re addicted, you’ll likely find that you can’t stop using even though you want to or try to.

Myth: Someone who’s addicted can stop using if they just exercise willpower.

Fact: Addiction is the result of changes in brain function that may occur with heavy drug abuse. Once you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, good intentions and willpower are rarely enough to end it for the long-term, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which stresses that professional help is almost always needed.

Myth: Addiction can be cured.

Fact: Addiction is a chronic disease, just as diabetes and hypertension are chronic diseases. Like diabetes and hypertension, addiction can be sent into remission, but it can recur if you use again after a period of abstinence. The good news is that long-term addiction recovery is possible with treatment, which gives you the tools, skills, and strategies you need to abstain from drugs or alcohol for the long-term.

Myth: Medication-assisted treatment is just swapping out one addiction for another.

Fact: Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, for opioid addiction is the recommended pathway of treatment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The medications used for MAT keep cravings and withdrawal at bay so that you can focus on restoring your life and learning the essential skills and strategies for coping with triggers like cravings and stress.

Myth: Addiction treatment doesn’t usually work.

Fact: One of the most damaging myths about drug addiction is that treatment doesn’t work. The truth is, treatment works for most people who engage with it. Relapse rates for addiction are similar to those of other chronic diseases, but a relapse doesn’t mean that treatment didn’t work. Most people who relapse get right back on track with recovery once they develop the missing skills that led to the relapse.

Myths of drug abuse and addiction can prevent people from getting the help they need to end an addiction for the long-term. Drug abuse and addiction can destroy lives, and getting help for a drug or alcohol problem is essential for improving your health, quality of life, and sense of wellbeing.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.

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