Here’s how addiction works: The affected individual has control over the first drink (or hit). After that, the disease takes over. However, despite the abundance of information out there, many people still buy into misconceptions about drugs. These myths fly in the face of this truth, that the addict only has control of the first drink.
These drug myths often discourage people from getting treatment. They also cause shame for those addicted and for their loved ones. While many misconceptions about drugs exist, here are three of the most common ones.
Misconceptions About Drugs: Addiction Is a Character Weakness
Substance abuse or addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain. It’s progressive. This means that like other diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease, it gets worse over time.
Someone with a chronic disease, like alcoholism or diabetes, can expect it to last more than three months. Addiction lasts a lifetime. There is no vaccine that prevents chronic disease. This is the case for substance abuse. No vaccine exists for it. Finally, a chronic disease is also inherited to a certain extent. Genetics play a role.
Like most chronic diseases, addiction can only be only managed. The addict can go to a 12-step program, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or get counseling. He or she can also go into an addiction treatment program. Once the individual learns how to maintain sobriety, the addictive behaviors can cease.
However, if the recovering person uses drugs again, the disease will pick up where it left off and eventually become worse. Abstinence is key.
Drugs Leave the System Quickly
Like most misconceptions, this just isn’t so. Traces of marijuana linger in the blood for up to three days after using. Cocaine can remain a week after using. Traces of alcohol can stay in the body days after the last drink was drunk.
Drugs affect the whole body, including the brain. While many people who use drugs do feel “fine” after a day or so, drugs have long-term effects on the body. Their effects are cumulative and are particularly hard on organs like the brain, liver and kidneys. This is why those who suffer from addiction eventually see a breakdown of their bodies. This includes the occurrence of other diseases, like liver disease. These result from the abuse that the body has endured over time as a result of addiction.
Addiction Recovery Should Happen Only Once
Addiction recovery isn’t a set-it-and-forget type of deal. This is one of the most harmful drug myths out there.
Recovery needs management, just like heart disease and diabetes. When a person relapses, they are once again experiencing symptoms of their disease. The good news is that the longer a person has been in recovery, the less likely a relapse becomes. This is similar to the prognosis for anyone else who has a chronic disease. They are no more likely to have a relapse in symptoms than the diabetic who keeps his or her disease under control with proper lifestyle changes.
Misconceptions About Drugs: Final Words
Many people believe that substance addiction is a choice. Because they believe it’s a choice, they also believe that an addict can stop using at any time. That being the case, if someone can’t stop, then it’s a sign that he or she has some serious character flaws. These weaknesses prevent him or her from getting sober and staying sober.
The truth is more complicated than that. The presence of addiction indicates the presence of a chronic disease. Addicts can only manage their disease. It never goes away. The perpetuation of drug myths only serves to discourage recovery and perpetuate untruths about addiction.
Get Help for Addiction Today
If you or someone you know is facing challenges with addiction, we can help. Reach out to us at 855.730.8825 when you need information about drug treatment, or if you need to learn more about other drug myths that can slow down recovery.