Fighting the Stigma of Addiction by Addressing 5 Common Misconceptions
All too often, people believe what they want about addiction, leading to the current harmful stigma of addiction we face today. This stigma keeps people struggling with addiction from getting the help they so desperately need because they don’t want to be labeled as bad people. However, as a community, we can work to fight the stigma of addiction by confronting common misconceptions people have about addiction so that more people can get the help they need to establish successful and lasting recovery.
Misconception #1: Addiction is not a Disease
The most commonly believed misconception about addiction is that it’s not a disease. Even individuals who have dealt with addiction and remained sober for years may not believe that addiction is a disease. However, since the 1980’s it has been a well-known fact within the science community that addiction is a disease. With brain imagery, science has proven that drug addiction changes the chemical composition of the brain. Thus, leading to severe effects and consequences of addictive behaviors.
Opposition to addiction being a disease claims that addiction is a choice due to the fact that an individual first chooses to use a drug. However, just because a person decides to use an addictive substance, it does not mean they were deciding to become addicted. And, since dependence can begin to develop on the first use with many substances, it’s a choice many don’t even know they’re making.
Finally, in this day and age of the opioid epidemic, we know that the majority of developed opioid addictions are due to prescription narcotics. Doctors prescribe opioids for pain, individuals use them as prescribed, and end up struggling with addiction. To ease the pain of withdrawal, people turn to buy opioids on the street, including prescription pills and heroin. To say that individuals who were simply taking medications according to doctor orders chose to become statistics of the opioid epidemic is a bit far fetched.
Misconception #2: Drug Addicts are all bad People
It’s common that people believe that all drug addicts are bad people who have evil tendencies. However, ANYONE can become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Just because someone develops a dependency on a substance, it doesn’t mean that they are evil. While the effects of drug addiction can lead to self-demeaning behaviors, it doesn’t mean that these individuals would act in these ways if they weren’t brought on by the serious and life-changing effects of addiction.
Misconception #3: Drug Addicts Should be Charged with Prison Time
Many people believe that drug addicts should withdrawal and fend for themselves within the prison system because that’s what they think they deserve. However, individuals who end up in prison while struggling with active addiction will most likely continue with addictive behaviors when their prison sentence ends. So, instead of putting people in jail, it’s better to offer these individuals a chance to get the help they need. For example, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the judicial system allows for individuals in prison on drug-related crimes to choose an alternative to prison by going to treatment. The data shows that the program is highly successful and a great alternative to incarcerating drug addicted individuals.
Misconception #4: Sober Living is not Useful or Effective for Recovering Individuals
Many people don’t like the stigma surrounding sober living and believe that these homes are a disruption. Or, that they simply don’t work to help keep people sober. However, studies time and time again showcase the importance of extended support with social living environments. Surroundings play a big part in how individuals are successful with recovery efforts. If a person doesn’t surround themselves in a supportive environment, they are more likely to relapse. And, continue the cycle of addiction. Sober living, while not effective 100% of the time, is definitely worth the time, effort, and investment as it provides continuous support and a supportive setting.
Misconception #5: A Person has to hit Rock Bottom to get Help
It’s commonly believed that an addicted individual has to “hit rock bottom” before they accept that they need help. Rock bottom is a term commonly used throughout the addiction treatment realm to describe a point in life where an addict can no longer live with the consequences of addiction. However, rock bottom for many is either a life prison sentence or, sadly, death. So, it’s no wonder that it’s important for individuals to seek out help before this happens. Fortunately, it is possible for individuals to realize they may need help before hitting rock bottom. Additionally, it’s possible for the family of addicted individuals to help an addicted loved one too.
Getting More Knowledge on Addiction at Wellness Retreat Recovery Center
Have questions about addiction? Want to know more about these common misconceptions? Have a loved one struggling with drug or alcohol addiction? Want to finally get the help you need to stay sober? Wellness Retreat Recovery Center is here for you and your family. Contact us today to speak with us confidentially about how we are working to break the stigma of addiction. And, how we can help you and your family get the support that you need.