Thanks to the internet and advancements in addiction research, there’s a lot of information about the disease floating around out there. While having open access to addiction education is great in most cases, getting a hold of the wrong information can be damaging to recovery. Debunking common addiction myths is a necessary part of addiction education.
Myth: Addiction is a disease, so there’s nothing I can do about it.
Fact: Having addiction increasingly understood as a disease of the brain has opened up treatment options and avenues for success in recovery. Some people use the fact that addiction is a disease as an excuse to allow it to continue on unchecked, when actually the medical definitions of addiction give you more options for overcoming it than ever.
Myth: Addiction stems from a lack of willpower.
Fact: Whether or not a person develops an addiction has almost nothing to do with willpower. Environmental factors, genetics, co-occurring disorders, and other factors are the main indicators for addiction. Addiction causes changes in brain chemistry that can’t be balanced out through willpower. Restoring balance requires medical intervention in the vast majority of cases.
Myth: Addiction affects people who are weak, uneducated, and/or poor.
Fact: Addiction affects people from every race, gender, and demographic. Millions of Americans are suffering from this disease and they come in all shapes and sizes. It’s an equal opportunity disease, but there is equal opportunity help available.
Myth: Since addiction is a disease, addicts should be excused for their behavior.
Fact: Just like some people lay blame on an addict for their disease, others use it to excuse them from their actions. While addicts can’t control the fact that they have a disease, they can still control their choices to ask for help and work toward recovery. Giving them a free pass because of addiction doesn’t help them to become healthy again.
Myth: Relapsing means that my recovery effort has failed.
Fact: This is one of the most damaging myths about addiction, because it keeps addicts who have suffered a relapse from continuing on in their recovery. Relapse is a part of many diseases, addiction included, but it can be overcome. The sooner you get back to working on recovery, the less of an impact your relapse will have. A large percentage of addicts suffer from relapse and many of them go on to continue in a successful recovery.