Addiction Myths


Myth 1: People choose to become addicted to drug and alcohol.

Most people start using drugs and alcohol occasionally, which is a voluntary decision. However, the more they choose to use, the more they become addicted. As the addiction grows they end up becoming a compulsive user, dependent and addicted. This happens because drugs and alcohol actually change the brain and these changes affect all aspects of the person’s life. The addiction grows and the person becomes more and more dependent, physically and emotionally, and the drug use gets out of control.


Myth 2: Addicts are bad people, stupid, crazy or immoral.

Addiction is a disease that affects the brain and body. Different drugs have different mechanisms for changing how the brain works and functions. But the result on the brain is very similar, no matter which drug the person is using. The molecules and cells change, the user’s mood changes, memory changes and motor skills change. All of the changes combine to create the physical and mental need for the substance, which becomes the most powerful motivator in that person’s life. Thankfully, much of the damage to the brain can be restored after long term sobriety. Addiction does not make the addict a bad person, stupid, crazy or immoral. It’s not a character flaw—it’s a disease.


Myth 3: The user has to want treatment for it to be effective.

Most users do not want treatment. They know they will no longer have access to the drugs they crave and are addicted to and they do not want to go through the intense detoxification period and the following days without their substance of choice. Most people seek treatment because the court ordered them to or because family or loved ones urged them to seek treatment. Studies have shown that the reasons why someone seeks treatment has little influence on success rates.


Myth 4: Treatment is one size fits all.

The most successful drug and alcohol rehabs tailor their programs to meet the needs of each individual client. Some need more therapy than others. Some have undiagnosed mental disorders such as depression or a learning disability that need to be treated. Different people have different issues and problems and people respond differently to similar forms of treatment, even when they are abusing the same substance. Successful rehabs will offer different forms of treatment to meet the individual needs of each person.


Myth 5: People can just quit if they really want to.

Willpower has absolutely nothing to do with addiction. Addiction occurs in an area of the brain called the mesolimbic dopamine system that is not under conscious control. It is very hard for addicts to maintain sobriety in the long term. Because drugs change the way the human brain functions, learning behavioural and cognitive skills is necessary for abstinence. No amount of willpower can make an addict quit because the cravings are stronger than willpower. Skills and the appropriate environment help.


Myth 6: Addicts and users won’t seek treatment until they hit rock bottom.

People enter into treatment all of the time without hitting rock bottom. The motivating factors differ from person to person but typical motivators are pressures from family and friends to seek help and personal recognition that the he or she has a problem. For teens and young adults, parents and school administrator are often the driving force in getting the person into treatment. Some people do hit rock bottom and then get into treatment but that is just some people—not all.


Myth 7: If you’ve tried one rehab program, you’ve tried them all.

There are short-term, outpatient, long-term, residential and in-patient treatment, to name a few. The type of treatment a person chooses should depend on the amount of time needed for the person to learn the skills necessary to live a life of sobriety. Studies have shown that the longer a person stays in treatment, the higher his or her success rate of sobriety is. The reason for this is simple: addicts did not become addicted over night and the skills and tools needed to maintain sobriety cannot be learned over night either. A month or two of treatment is usually not enough. Six months to a year of residential treatment is the minimum amount of time most people need, followed by transitional living and an umbrella of support once the person begins to go back into mainstream society.


Myth 8: People that use drugs or alcohol after treatment are hopeless.

The disease of addiction is chronic and relapses do occur. What should be noted is that the relapse can be used as a learning tool to help that individual discover the situations, people or places that were the catalyst for the relapse in order to learn how to deal with them in the future. Another point about relapse is that it doesn’t mean the person will never again be sober. Relapsing does not have to lead to the person hitting ‘rock bottom.’ Getting that person in touch with his or her sponsor and therapist can help him or her regain sobriety. Many of the myths about addiction and recovery make it difficult for users to get into the appropriate treatment. These myths need to be dispelled if the family and friends of the user want to get the person they know and love back. Knowledge about drug and alcohol use and abuse is the number one deterrent and having the facts will help this knowledge become even more powerful.

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The Have I Got A Problem website is a free online resource to help people better understand any issues or concerns they may have about mental health or addiction. The website includes resources specifically focused to; general Mental Health, Depression, Stress, Anxiety, Insecurities, Self-harm Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Anger Management, Eating Disorders, Coping, general Addiction, Alcohol, Smoking, Gambling, Drugs, Cocaine, Heroin, Marijuana (Cannabis) Ecstasy, PCP, Mephedrone, Ketamine & Crystal Meth.

The site was created to give the public information to help them understand mental health and addiction issues and to assist people in making better informed decisions about their life and personal choices. was created and is run by 'Advising Communities’, which is a UK registered charity (Charity No. 1061055)


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