Research carried out in 2019 indicated that approximately 21 million Americans experience at least one addiction, although 10% receive treatment. Addiction occurs when a person engages in a particular behavior or takes a particular substance without the ability to stop, even if it damages their physical and mental health. Indeed, addiction can cause various complications for the addict, including injury, heart attack, STDs, and so on. Addicts are also prone to depression, anxiety, loneliness, hallucinations, and other mental issues. It’s not uncommon that several assumptions surround this condition. However, they are just that; they aren’t true. Here are some common myths about addiction and how to debunk them.
Drug addiction is a choice
Many people think that drug addiction is a choice and that an addict can stop their behavior if they choose to. This further blames the sufferer, citing their lack of morals and weakness as the cause of their addiction. However, this is far from the truth. Science proves addiction is a chronic brain disease that can creep up on anyone anytime. Therefore, it can be compared to other health conditions like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. Also, several factors can contribute to the development of this condition. For instance, some people are genetically disposed to developing addictive habits. For instance, a person is likelier to become an alcoholic if their parents deal with the same problem. Moreover, environmental factors can also contribute to solidifying addictive behaviors.
It’s important to note that addiction doesn’t just affect their physical bodies but their emotions as well. And negative reactions from others may further worsen the situation. Insults and blames can cause the addict to feel shame and self-deprecation, causing them to repeat their addictive behaviors. And this can cause a vicious cycle. Instead of blaming them, you can offer support and compassion. For instance, if you’re close to an adult drug or alcohol addict, you can register them for an outpatient drug and alcohol treatment program for adults.
People can’t be addicts if they have a job
People with stable jobs are often viewed as responsible and not prone to addiction. However, research states that over 70% of workers deal with addiction. It’s also worth noting that working doesn’t mean people with addiction perform efficiently. Workers dealing with addiction report decreased production, which costs business owners a lot of money. Moreover, they are more prone to being absent from work continuously. They can also be present, howbeit intoxicated, which can jeopardize their safety and the safety of other workers. It’s not uncommon for work-related accidents due to intoxication, leading to increased medical bills and lawsuits for their employers.
Fortunately, employers can find means to help such employees. The first step is to look out for signs of addiction. As stated earlier, frequent leaves, moodiness, loss of interest, intoxication, etc., are all signs of addiction. As a tip, document these signs, as they can be useful to counsel your employee to seek professional help. You also want to educate your employees about the dangers of addiction and implement policies to address these issues.
Relapse is an indication of failure
Admittedly, recovery can be tough, but coming out clean can be rewarding and exciting. However, the fear of relapse is something recovering addicts fear, as they assume it indicates failure. Relapse occurs when someone falls back to addictive behaviors after abstinence or sobriety. And people who relapse tend to blame themselves and feel guilty for failing themselves and their loved ones. However, relapsing isn’t an indication of failure but a part of the journey to total freedom. Since chronic addiction can cause functional and structural brain alterations that remain even after sobriety, recovering addicts are more likely to return to their old habits. Also, several factors can trigger a relapse, including cravings, negative moods, and low self-efficacy.
If a loved one experience a relapse, several strategies could help them get back on track. You can show how much you love and desire their success while empathizing with their feelings. You can also work with them to create a plan to anticipate and address barriers. For instance, you can accompany them to self-help group meetings, treatments, and other activities that promote sobriety. By all means, avoid being hostile or playing the blame game, as these can be counter-productive. While at it, be careful not to enable their relapse by making excuses for them. It’s also good to avoid participating in activities or taking substances that can trigger a relapse.
People should secretly battle addiction
Many who deal with addiction prefer to do so secretly. And this is motivated by fear of judgment, loss of respect and status, and so on. Admittedly, the stigma surrounding addiction exists, but it doesn’t mean everyone will condemn or judge. Moreover, secretly living with it can increase stress, causing addicts to depend further on these substances or activities. Likewise, dropping them can be challenging without having the right support. Seeing these dangers, it’s best for people with addiction to open up to someone about their struggles. And this could be their trusted friends, family, group therapist, or professionals, so keep this in mind. If you suspect your loved one is secretly dealing with addiction, you can take the first step by talking to them.
As a tip, launch the conversation in a supportive and caring manner so they don’t feel judged. Since the discussion can be emotionally charged, you can script and rehearse what you intend to say to keep you on track. Feel free to express your concerns, but let them know you come from a place of support and love. This way, it’s easier for them to listen to what you say without feeling defensive. While at it, listen to and respect whatever they say, as you may pick up nuggets to help them overcome their addiction. It’s important to note that you can’t force your loved one to open up if they don’t want to. Instead, be patient and compassionate until they are more comfortable sharing their struggles.
Addicts should hit their lowest point before they seek help
Many people believe that addiction isn’t serious or doesn’t requires immediate treatment until an addict hits rock bottom. However, this can be a dangerous position to take, especially if you have already noticed symptoms of addiction in your loved one. For starters, it’s synonymous with an oncologist suggesting that treatment should be suspended until the cancer metastasizes. The “rock bottom” concept has no concrete definition, making determining how low is too low challenging. That said, a person with an addiction may think they’ve hit their lowest point, only to go even lower. Indeed, addiction doesn’t just stop at a specific point; it continues until there’s nothing to lose and the person has suffered extensive physical and mental damage. For instance, delayed treatment can cause liver damage, weight loss, blood-borne diseases, respiratory depression, and so on. It can also trigger mental issues like paranoia, psychosis, suicidal thoughts, and the like.
Therefore, you want to intervene immediately you observe signs of addiction. Experts recommend raising the bottom to achieve the desired outcome. And you can achieve this by allowing negative consequences to occur, motivating an addict to seek treatment. For example, you can suspend sending their allowance or restrict other privileges until they do the needful. Alternatively, you can encourage positive behaviors to raise the bottom. You can discuss treatment options with them or drive them to their therapies. Consequently, be consistent when setting boundaries and limits.
Alcohol addiction isn’t as severe as drug addiction
One common substance that people get addicted to is alcohol. Admittedly, alcohol consumption is easily accepted and even encouraged in many societies. It is usually a crucial part of any social gathering; some use it as an initiation rite, while others drink to impress their peers. However, this can be the beginning of alcohol addiction. And this can go undetected, as compared to drug addiction which has its stigma. It also doesn’t help that alcohol consumption is portrayed positively by the media. The NIAAA places alcoholism as the third-leading preventable cause of death in the US. People with this addiction are likelier to commit suicide since they deal with anxiety and depression. Additionally, prolonged alcohol consumption can damage the liver and other organs, increasing the mortality rate.
Therefore, alcohol addiction should be treated as seriously as drug addiction. If your loved one struggles with excess alcohol consumption, consider expressing your concerns. As a tip, provide facts regarding their situation to drive your point home. You can also suggest activities that distract them from reaching for a bottle. While at it, encourage them to attend counseling or group meetings by driving them to their appointments. It’s worth noting that overcoming alcohol addiction is gradual, so be patient and supportive even when you experience setbacks.
Addiction is a serious condition that affects many people’s lives, and seeking ways to help your loved one is essential. However, myths can offer false information that can render your efforts ineffective. Therefore, debunking them is essential to achieve your goal.