6 Commonly Held Misconceptions About Addiction: What Addicts Want You to Know
Understanding addiction is not easy. Most people are not aware that some of the beliefs they have about addiction are, in fact, misconceptions. Loved ones especially can benefit from having accurate information about addiction – learn how to separate fact from fiction.
Addiction and is a complex human phenomenon that sparks the interest and fascination of the world. Even for those who have had a close relationship to someone with an addiction, it can still seem nearly impossible to wrap your head around.
More and more, we see addiction and addiction treatment portrayed in the media, but does this shed any helpful light on it? Or does it perpetuate the long-held myths we as a society hold about this complex disorder?
Myths about addiction can be destructive, creating a major divide between those struggling with an addiction and ‘sober’ people. Here we lay out six myths that sober people often believe about addicts, addiction and rehab.
1. You Have to Want Treatment for it to Work
Many people believe that a loved one will only be successful at treatment if it is something they want. But this myth contradicts the reality of addiction, which does not usually leave room for rational decisions. Very few people seek treatment because they arrive at the decision that it is what is best for them. More often than not, it is not a matter of want, but a matter of need. For those who are deep into their addiction, the thought of treatment is unappealing at best and terrifying at worst.
Treatment can be successful with or without the desire to be there. In fact, it usually takes a degree of sobriety, achieved after some time in treatment, for addicts to gain the clarity that treatment is where they want to be. Addiction professionals know this and work with people to get them to a point where treatment is something they want, but this rarely happens from the onset.
2. We Have No Problem With Our Lifestyle
Many people believe that addicts continue to abuse substances because they are content with their life and their choices. When a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol tells you that they do not want help, it can appear that they are perfectly happy with their current situation.
The nature of addiction is such that it alters the brain, clouding judgment and causing a state of denial about their how unmanageable life has become. Lying to oneself and others is simply a symptom of addiction. No one would purposefully choose an addicted life over one of health and happiness.
3. We Choose to be Addicted
This is an especially damaging misconception. It is held by many people who believe that addiction is a choice, which could not be further from the truth. Using a substance in the first place is very different from being in the throes of an addiction. Once someone is addicted, they are unable to simply choose to stop. Addiction is classified as a brain disorder as it impacts our abilities to enact choice and make proper decisions.
Addiction is a dismal and destructive way to live. It leads to the loss of basically everything important to you, and it is not a state that any person would consciously choose.
4. Punishment Can Cure Addiction
This belief is held not just by individuals, but by the larger systems within society. Addiction and related offences are mainly met with criminal penalties, according to the belief that if people are punished for their addiction, they will choose another path.
Once again, addiction negates choice and the actions that someone commits in order to get their fix, proves that they are enslaved to their addiction above all else. Punishing someone for their addiction is based on a false understanding of addiction as a decision. In fact, punishment is not only ineffective in treating addiction—it can actually worsen it. Besides drugs often being more available in correctional facilities, a criminal record leads to a cycle of stigma, shame and barriers to success. This intensified shame is a major instigator causing relapse, pulling addicts further into the black hole of addiction.
5. The Rock Bottom Myth
The rock bottom myth is a commonly held myth that is only perpetuated by the media’s portrayal of addiction. We constantly see images of people who reach this proverbial turning point at which they decide to seek treatment. But what exactly is rock bottom, and is it not true that the situation can always get worse? As some addiction counsellors say, “rock bottom is death.”
6. Treatment Should be Severe
A truly unfortunate fallacy about addiction is that those with this disorder are somehow ‘bad’ people. This has led to some treatment centres adopting shame-based techniques to motivate people to get clean. This approach not only deters people from treatment, but shame-based methods increase the chances of relapse.
Furthermore, this myth causes sober people to think that treatment in a luxury setting will not be ‘tough enough’ to cure addiction. In fact, the opposite is true; more severe methods of addiction treatment are arguably less effective. The most effective addiction treatment methods are those that adopt a judgment-free, holistic approach and help people get to the underlying causes of their addiction.
Addiction Treatment for Your Loved One
If your loved one is struggling with an addiction, The Cabin Singapore can help. Even if they have already had unsuccessful attempts at getting sober, our team of addiction experts can work with your loved one to get them back on the road to recovery.
At The Cabin Singapore’s outpatient treatment centre, we house some of the top minds in addiction. Our programme allows clients to continue their work and family commitments and fit treatment around their schedule. Our integrative Recovery Zones method operates on the basis that addiction is a disorder. We create a stigma-free environment for individuals to step into a healthier life.
For further information, contact us today.