Group meeting at Fairbanks.

Fact or fiction? Five myths about addiction

September 25th, 2018

As National Recovery Month, now in its 29th year, comes to an end, Fairbanks Treatment and Recovery Center continues its work to shatter the myths about substance abuse disorders and addiction. With a spotlight on addiction, it is no surprise that over time the public’s perceptions and understanding of this disease have morphed to include several misconceptions and assumptions. Misinformation can perpetuate the stigma associated with this disease.

“The topic of drug addiction is plagued by myths and misperceptions that have been developed and engrained in our culture and undermine recovery,” said Robin Parsons, chief clinical officer at Fairbanks. “These myths are crippling to those who suffer with drug addiction and make it much harder for individuals to seek out treatment and then transition back to a normal life in recovery,” Parsons added. “Proper education on drug addiction is key. When families, friends, employers and acquaintances understand the disease, they better understand their loved ones and help strengthen the recovery process.”

In an effort to help stop the stigma, Fairbanks is responding to these top myths with the facts.

  1. Drug addiction is a choice. Although initial drug use is a choice, addiction is not. Every person is different and thus is affected by drugs differently. For example, one user may not show signs of addiction until using a particular drug several times, while another may begin to display signs of addiction after initial use. Additionally, several sociological, psychological and biological factors, such as family history and genetics, play into the potential for someone to develop an addiction. Social stigma makes it difficult for individuals to seek initial treatment due to the fear of consequences associated with being labeled an “addict.” Struggling with addiction does not make someone a good or bad person, it makes them a sick person seeking help.
  2. Opioid addiction is the hardest to recover from. Opioid misuse and addiction are certainly causing a public health crisis. And, while opioids are highly addictive and very hard to recover from, there are several drugs, including alcohol, which require professional help to recover from. Heroin, prescription painkillers, cocaine, methamphetamines, benzodiazepines, nicotine and alcohol are the most addictive substances because they provide pleasure to the brain when abused. Over time, this causes the brain to make chemical changes that lead to dependency. It is important to remember that addiction goes far beyond drug usage and a holistic approach to treatment and recovery from substance abuse is necessary.
  3. Those with a substance use disorder will not seek out or benefit from treatment until they hit rock bottom. This myth is particularly troublesome because it packs a one-two punch. It propels a user deeper into drug abuse – increasing negative behaviors and creating a stronger addiction. At the same time, the myth causes family and friends to believe they are powerless to step in until someone has lost it all. This logic is extremely dangerous. Family and friends should not wait until their loved one is at or near rock bottom. Experts specializing in behavior therapy and addiction recovery can help users during any point in their journey. The sooner users get treatment, the more likely it is they will recover and live a life free from drugs and alcohol.
  4. Only wealthy people can afford treatment and rehab. When people first enter the doors of treatment centers seeking help, their first worry is if they can afford it. There are several treatment programs to get individuals from addiction to recovery – and those range in costs. Financial assistance, insurance and payment options help ease the financial burden and allow participants to get the help they need.
  5. Prescription drugs are always safe because a doctor prescribes them. It is a commonly held belief that prescriptions written by physicians are 100% safe. Unfortunately, the comfort in that myth is not true and can be a slippery slope for individuals who take these prescription drugs– not worrying about dependence or overdosing. Dependence for many begins with prescribed medicine for pain or anxiety. It’s important to remember that all medication has side effects and there are several prescribed drugs that lead to psychological and physical dependency.

About Fairbanks Treatment and Recovery Center

Located in Indianapolis, Ind., Fairbanks Treatment and Recovery Center is a nonprofit addiction and recovery center that provides treatment and hope for men, women and adolescents who are committed to living the life of recovery. Fairbanks is one of the oldest independent addiction and recovery centers in America. With over 70 years of experience, Fairbanks is dedicated to its mission to inspire hope and transform lives as the experts in addiction, focused on recovery. Visit the website fairbankscd.org for more information.