Addiction is a widely misunderstood chronic disease. Because of the social stigma and misconceptions surrounding drug and alcohol abuse, many people are afraid to speak up and get the help they need. Explore these common addiction treatment myths to better understand the effects of substance use disorder and how treatment can help.

1. Drug Addiction Is a Choice

This is probably one of the most common myths about addiction. No one chooses to become addicted. A substance use disorder is a chronic illness like cancer or heart disease. There are many reasons someone may struggle with substance abuse, including genetics, mental illness or trauma. Addiction can also alter brain chemistry, making it difficult to control impulses or cravings, which is why quitting can be so hard. 

2. Drug Addicts Are Bad People

An alcohol or drug addiction can happen to anyone, regardless of who they are. It may cause someone to engage in negative actions, such as stealing money for drugs, avoiding their family or making irresponsible choices they wouldn’t have made before. Drug use can cause someone to make bad decisions, but that doesn’t mean they’re a bad person who can’t get better or doesn’t deserve help. 

3. Relapse Is a Sign Substance Abuse Treatment Failed

Like with other chronic illnesses, treating addiction is a lifelong process. Relapse is a natural part of recovery and not a sign the treatment program failed. In fact, relapse rates for substance use disorders are similar to those of other chronic illnesses, such as hypertension and asthma.

Long-term recovery is often necessary for addiction because it requires changing deeply ingrained habits and overcoming a mental or physical dependency. This can be extremely difficult to do and may require multiple treatment methods to be successful. 

4. Alcohol Addiction Isn’t as Bad as Drug Addiction

It’s more socially accepted for people to drink alcohol than take drugs. Alcohol is also more accessible and is a social activity that many partake in together, which may make it seem less dangerous than drugs such as cocaine or heroin. However, alcohol is also a drug and can be highly addictive. Excessive alcohol use accounts for over 140,000 deaths per year, making it one of the most deadly substances. 

5. If Someone Can Hold Down a Job, They Aren’t Addicted

Many people live in denial about their addiction because they can maintain a job, have a stable family life or don’t drink until after 5 p.m. High-functioning addicts are good at putting on a facade, but that doesn’t mean their struggles with addiction aren’t real. They may also hide the severity of their substance use out of shame or fear they’ll lose their job, making it more difficult to get help before the addiction worsens. 

6. Getting Professional Treatment Will Solve the Problem

Getting professional treatment is safer than quitting cold turkey, but it’s not a magic cure. Treatment is the first step toward ending prolonged substance use, but it may take multiple methods or attempts to stay on the right track. Recovery is a lifelong process in which you’ll continuously gain new coping skills, resources and support systems to manage your addiction and stay healthy. 

7. Prescription Drugs Aren’t as Bad as Street Drugs

Prescription drugs can be extremely harmful if they’re taken by someone without a prescription or not directly in line with doctor instructions. Many prescription drugs also come with negative side effects that are dangerous even when the drug is taken correctly.

The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics reports over 16 million Americans abuse prescription drugs annually. Prescriptions are also the fifth most abused drug after alcohol and tobacco products. In particular, prescription opioids are highly addictive and a leading cause of overdose deaths in the United States. 

8. Addiction Treatment Should Be Kept a Secret

One of the most dangerous addiction myths is that struggling with substance abuse and receiving treatment for it should be kept a secret. Many people worry that their friends or families might think less of them or their status at work might be affected. However, keeping a secret that’s harmful to your health and well-being can cause detrimental effects without treatment. 

Drug and alcohol use already have serious physical and mental consequences. Trying to hide them out of shame or fear can add a heavy psychological burden that can worsen or cause additional mental health issues. Reaching out for help can ease this burden and improve your overall quality of life. 

9. People Have to Hit Rock Bottom Before Getting Better

It’s not a prerequisite to hit rock bottom before getting treatment. If anything, it’s better to seek treatment before the addiction escalates, but this can be easier said than done. Some people may not recognize they have a problem until their substance abuse gets out of hand.

Encouragement from loved ones can motivate them to explore treatment options or enter rehab where they’ll have access to resources focused on managing their addiction and a supportive environment free from drugs and alcohol. 

10. Addiction Is Hopeless

Addiction can be hard to overcome, but it’s not impossible to effectively manage or treat. People who receive treatment, such as detox, therapy, support groups or medication, at a professional treatment center can achieve and maintain long-lasting recovery. These resources can equip you with the skills needed to develop healthier coping techniques and take control over your emotions and actions to stay sober. 

The first step to overcoming an addiction is addressing the fact that you need help. For a successful recovery, it’s important to understand how addiction affects you and what treatment is available for your specific needs. Contact Resurgence Riverside today at (855) 458-0050 for more information about taking the first step toward recovery.  

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