Misconceptions about Addictions
When is the last time you had a conversation about addiction? It probably was not recently, if ever. Face it: this is not the kind of thing most people choose to discuss.Because people don't talk much about this subject, there are many aspects of addiction that people do not understand. In fact, most of us probably have misconceptions about addictions.Please research what some of these myths are. Find out, based on your research, whether or not these myths are true.Some people think alcoholics can stop drinking on their own, without help, for good, if they were to just have will power. Do you think that is true? Is marijuana addictive? Are addictions simply bad habits?
Addiction is a behavioral pattern categorized by compulsion, loss of control, and continued repetition of a behavior or activity in spite of the negative consequences that stem from the behavior or activity (Hales, 2013, p. 653). There are many different types of addictions; people can become addicted to drugs, behaviors, and activities. People can become addicted to: alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, street drugs, gambling, food, work, video games, exercise, pain, shopping, cutting, and/or spirituality (Tracy, 2012). There are many myths that surround addiction which breeds misconceptions about addiction and addicts, most of these myths revolve around drug or alcohol addictions.
The most common myth about drug and alcohol addiction is the “they can stop if they want to” myth; this myth is not completely false, it is possible for an addict to stop by themselves, but it is extremely difficult. Research has discovered that long-term substance use alters brain chemistry; these alterations can cause intense cravings, impulse control issues, and the compulsion to continue to use (White, n.d.). These chemical changes make it very problematic for a true addict to quit solely by willpower and determination (White, n.d.). Another common myth is that addiction is an untreatable disease; this myth is fully false. Addiction can be seen as a disease of the brain, but it can be fought and the damage can sometimes be reversed with abstinence, therapy, and other forms of treatment (White, n.d.). There are also a few myths that center on gambling addictions.
One of the most well-known myths on gambling addictions is the “it’s not possible to become addicted to something like gambling”; this statement is a complete myth with no truth in it. Certain activities, like gambling, are just as addictive as drinking or doing drugs; gambling produces a feeling of euphoria that encourages the gambler to keep repeating the behavior to repeat that effect (10 Myths of Compulsive Gambling, n.d.). Over time the gambler will build up a tolerance for gambling; this tolerance will drive the gambler to take bigger risk to recapture that feeling of euphoria (10 Myths of Compulsive Gambling, n.d.). Any behavior or activity that causes a person to keep repeating it because of the sense of euphoria they feel is an addiction.
While I do believe that people can stop an addictive behavior by themselves if they have enough motivation and will power to do so, I also understand that stopping an addiction without assistance is an extremely difficult challenge. I believe that most people would need assistance with ending their addiction and that specialized treatment should be provided to help addicts. Many drugs like marijuana are addictive to people because of the effect that the drugs have on the person’s mind. Over time marijuana overstimulates the endocannabinoid system which causes the brain’s pathways to be altered; this alteration is what leads to marijuana being addictive (Is Marijuana Addictive, 2015). Addictions are not just bad habits, though a bad habit can become an addiction over time. For instance, a person could form a habit of taking marijuana when they feel pain, yet that person does not become addicted to marijuana until the marijuana alters their brain to cause the addiction (Is Marijuana Addictive, 2015). There are many myths that surround addiction and almost all of them all false, though a few do have a glimmer of truth to them. Addictions can be viewed as a disease of the brain; however, contrary to the myths addiction can be treated and sometimes reversed with proper treatment and abstinence (White, n.d.).
10 Myths of Compulsive Gambling. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2015, from http://www.crchealth.com/addiction/-addiction-treatment/gambling-myths/
Hales, D. (2013). Invitation to Health: Live It Now (16th ed.). Cengage Learning.
Is Marijuana Addictive? (2015, June 1). Retrieved October 15, 2015, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive
Tracy, N. (2012, January 12). List of Addictions. Retrieved October 15, 2015, from http://www.healthyplace.com/addictions/addictions-information/types-of-addiction-list-of-addictions/
White, D. (n.d.). Myths About Addiction: “They Could Stop If They Wanted To”. Retrieved October 15, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/07/17/they-could-stop-if-they-wanted-to-common-myths-about-addicts-addiction/