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The Many Myths About Drug Addiction; How do you support a recovering addict?

Updated on June 4, 2013
A man injects his arm with a kind of illegal drug
A man injects his arm with a kind of illegal drug

How have the views of addiction changed?

The truth is, drugs have been around for a long time, I mean a very long time. The idea of chemicals that alter the way the mind functions is not a new idea. There are cultures all around the world that have ancient historical use of mind-changing substances for religious purposes. Each culture has its own form, and also has had its own group of people that have had their problems with it.

Drug addiction began to be more known as media grew to be able to spread information more quickly. Drug addiction started its powerful rise in the 1960s, with the flower-power, drug induced music movement. This was the first time that media and peer pressure made mind-altering drugs into a symbol of being "cool". Instantly teens and young adults all over the world were hooked.

When drug addictions started to get increasingly out of control, the world did not take kindly to those suffering. Drug addicts were viewed as immoral and corrupt people. Society thought they were making a choice out of freewill and should be treated as criminals. Even those seeking help to overcome their addictions, were turned away.

Through extensive research and study, the view on drug addiction has begun to shift. Through drug addicts still obviously have a horrible reputation and there are still criminal actions being taken against those in possession of illegal drugs, the view on the mentality of these people is starting to improve. We understand that a drug addict has a very serious mental health and brain disease. Treatment has to involve a medical and mental health evaluation and plan.

A scan of the human brain and how cocaine changes it
A scan of the human brain and how cocaine changes it

Myth # 1: Drug Addiction is a choice made of the addict out of freewill

This is unfortunately an argument that many people still make. These people assume that a drug addiction is a character flaw of the individual. They are continuing to choose their drug and hurting themselves and the people that love them.

Study has shown that there are very serious changes that happen within the brains of addicts. Though, the very first initial taking of a drug might have been a choice, the addiction that developes was never a choice. The damage that takes place within the brain causes the addict to do things that they normally would never consider.

Drug addicts do not choose to be dependant on their substances.

An addict is fighting their addictions every day
An addict is fighting their addictions every day

Myth #2: An addict can quit any time they choose to

Much like myth #1, this myth is also associated with the idea that an addiction is simply a matter of choice. It has been debated for year, but science and psychology shows us that an addiction is a very complicated brain disease. Therefore, recovery must incorporate mental health nd overall health practices into it.

Addicts need the help of loved ones in order to succeed
Addicts need the help of loved ones in order to succeed

Myth #3: An addict must choose to get help on their own

This is like saying that an addict must be left to suffer on their own because there is nothing that can be done for them. This is a horrible way to look at the situation and instead of being a harsh truth, it is a false statement that can cause an addict to feel even more alone and desperate.

An addict that is forced into rehab is just as likely to succeed as a person that chooses to go into rehab voluntarily. The first step to recover is detox. The substance must be cleared from the addict's body before they can began to think clearly. Even a forced rehab visit, can turn into the best thing that ever happened to the addict.

As well, the comfort that comes from family and friends that love and care for the addict goes a long way. The depression that is carried into an addiction causes a great deal of mental anguish for the addict. Knowing that someone cares for them enough to help them through this difficult time can greatly impact the recovery process.

There are vairous forms of drug addictions
There are vairous forms of drug addictions

Myth #4: An addict must hit rock bottom before beginning treatment

This myth can be incredibly dangerous. An addiction is something that steadily gets worse. It may start out as something that others don't even notice. The problem with just letting an addiction go, is the physical damage that it brings. The longer a person is taking drugs, the more they are detroying their bodies and brains.

An addiction needs to be confronted right from they very beginning. If you notice that a friend or family member is showing signs of an addiction, seek help as soon as possible. Some of the destruction of long term drug use is irreversible.

Myth #5: Addicts usually come from low socio-economic backgrounds

While it is true that being exposed to drugs and the environments of an addiction can lead to an addiction in a person, this does not necessarily mean that they have to be of poverty. Addicts come from all walks of life; the extremely rich, the poor, teenagers, adults, etc. No one is immune to becoming an addict no matter how privileged they may be.

It is common for media to show addicts as poor, uneducated people who live in the seediest parts of town. In reality, a person living in a two million dollar house could be an addict.

There is always a way out of an addiction. Recovery is possible
There is always a way out of an addiction. Recovery is possible

What can be done?

The best possible outcome for a drug addict is for the addiction to be controlled. The early it is treated, the more likely it will be for the person to overcome the side effects. The longer they use drugs, the more likely they are to do permanent damage to themselves.

If you or a loved one is suffering from drug addiction, call 1-800-662-HELP to find a treatment center near you. Or visit http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov

At what age did your addiction start?

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      Useless itch 2 years ago

      Great Hub. Helping society to author in an understanding of drug addiction based on compassion and empathy is important. The more true information available on this topic, the more people have a chance to deal with this disease successfully!

    • profile image

      Victor 3 years ago

      Thank you Paula . It's a rough thing I have created for my self. I'm going to start going to meetings and try to take my self more seriously with recovery. I truly want to make it as a sober person and I'm seeing more and more that after care is so important. Thank u for your words it means a lot thank you. And I wish the best for you and or the person you care for with an addiction problem that brought you to this site. Thank you :)

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Stitch....I hope you don't mind if I respond to Victor here.......Victor, please know that your comment is a very familiar scenario to me. Also, please know that I understand every word and every emotion you expressed. I believe you.

      However, I'm not a part of your life and not someone you truly NEED to believe you. In a normal, face to face experience, I would have so very much to say to you and be more than willing to listen....but this is not possible.

      Allow me to simply suggest (strongly advise) that you start today...NOW, this moment, to seek out the aggressive therapy you urgently need to be "successful." Begin where ever and however you can. Make a phone call, go to a community clinic, seek out a recovering addict you may know.......but, ACT.

      From your message here, it is fairly clear that you have either not had the appropriate help and/or support....and have not continued and/or maintained a lifestyle and put forth the effort, so totally vital to a clean & sober life. In other words, Victor....you have "tried," but not enough nor in the proper way with the professionals and medical personnel who help addicts every day, all day and have the means and know-how to keep you moving forward. Recovery is life long. Victor...read that again. RECOVERY is lifelong..........Peace and success....Paula

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      victor 3 years ago

      i am an addict and i really want to be clean and love my family as a sober man. i have tried rehab but i left early. i tried methadone which helped for a while but i relapsed . my family has stopped talking to me and my fiancé left me because of the lies and relapsing multiple times. i do want help and i do love my lady and family but they don't believe me . she offers me all that a person could ask for physically and materialistically . she truly loves me as i do love her. she completes me as a person but opiates keep pulling me back and making her disgusted with me. she thinks i do not love her and its all a lie. i break my word when it comes to drugs which also makes her wonder if im faithful to her. i hate my self after i reflect at times and i can handle my family dissing me because they are my family and i know once im back to 100% they will be there again. her on the other hand i do not want to lose and her son has become mine . i have been with them both for 6years he is my son in my eyes as well as his. i know she thinks that me relapsing 3 times in one year after all my promises and heart to heart breakthroughs makes me a love less jerk. i do love her and from the heart i treat her great and show and express my love but my addiction makes it all go out the window. i never get after care once im clean and family seems to think that if im clean for a few months and relaps that i am a ungrateful liar with no love or regard for family. i have anxiety from what im starting to realize may be ptsd. and before that i have a long history that has been lifelong with drugs. these are not things i say to my girl or family because they will look at them as an excuse or a cop out but i know i need to address those issues . i truly want to be with her for ever but as i lose my self im losing her too. im willing and wanting to be clean and sober i just wish she knew i don't do these things to hurt her and that i do love her and her son immensely. she says im just choosing to be selfish and i can't respond to that. she is not fully understanding of my problem and i can't force her to be. once i fall off the wagon i lie and then try to self medicate to wean off and detox in secret out of embarrassment and shame of coming to the woman i love and saying im sorry im a skrew up. im 30 and i want a better life with her in it . she is emotional and some times crazy like most women but she truly loves me and cares for me but she is ignorant to the fact that i don't do opiats to hurt her and that i don't not love her because i have lied so much around my addiction. tonight is my last night here with her because she caught me at a family gathering about to snort a xanax in the bathroom and she was livid. she then told me she can't cry because she is jaded. and when we get home i have to chose her and our boy or the drugs. no prescriptions or any thing else i can abuse. i told her ok and assured her i was not using opiates but that was a lie. i decided i was not going to tell her the full truth and just cut out the opiate use while its early so i don't start getting sick with out them. i was then caught today trying to destroy and dispose of my remaining opiate related paraphernalia and she lost it and did not care to hear about it or why . its just another lie to her and she is hurt beyond words. i have made her a victim and i feel like crap. i never really follow through with after care once i have detoxed i just try to live and she does the same hoping that love will be enough to keep me clean. now im about to have to leave and loose the last two people that have love for me. i just wish she knew where my heart is at and that im fighting such a strong monster. i don't want her to say i know it's a disease baby so just use your drugs carefully lol :( i just want a chance to really get some help one last time and actually get some after care. she is the love of my life and i have grown so much because of her but this one problem which is so serious that it shadows my love and growth in her eyes is killing me in more ways than one. sorry i typed so much but if you read it all i appreciate it and if your with a user hopefully this sheds a little light from an actual addict other than the one you love . maby they are like me and love you but its hard to keep that in mind that they need your love and help when your sixth sense is telling you something is wrong and they are lying to you and making you feel like a crazy person.thank you for your time... most sincerely victor.

    • StitchTheDamned profile image
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      StitchTheDamned 4 years ago from Clifton Park, NY

      Thank you for that. I agree that more people need to know these things. It is already a struggle for the addict. When the people around them can't understand it, the situation becomes even harder for the addict.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Stitch.....all I can say is, this is an extremely interesting, straightforward and well-written hub. I spent many years loving, living with and attempting to "support" an addict. Every word you have shared, is truth. It is important for more and more people to KNOW these things!! UP++

    • StitchTheDamned profile image
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      StitchTheDamned 4 years ago from Clifton Park, NY

      Thanks! Yeah, that is a really common thing for addicts to say. "I can quit any time that I want to."

    • Relationshipc profile image

      Kari 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Great article. There really are a lot of myths surrounding drugs. It is funny how many times I have heard myth number 2 from an addict - and how many times I have bought into it!

    • StitchTheDamned profile image
      Author

      StitchTheDamned 4 years ago from Clifton Park, NY

      Thank you for the comment. Yrs, I hope that this knowledge becomes more well known.

    • charlie cheesman profile image

      charlie cheesman 4 years ago from England

      This was good thanks I know how true some of this is.

    • StitchTheDamned profile image
      Author

      StitchTheDamned 4 years ago from Clifton Park, NY

      Thank you. That is great to hear about your family member that is foing so well. It just takes the right treatment, support and determination. I do hope that your other family member will get to a better place in life.

    • madscientist12 profile image

      Dani Alicia 4 years ago from Paterson, NJ

      Wonderful hub. I've had two family members that was severely addicted to drugs but now they are both clean, with one doing better than the other. She went to school, got a welding degree, is in the process of buying a house, and is doing well. The other is now dependent on alcohol unfortunately, but I hope she will give that up soon also.