As prevalent as addiction is in our communities, there is still a lot of misunderstanding surrounding it. This can be attributed in part to the myths that circulate about addiction. There is a great deal of misinformation in these myths, in the stereotypes and in the stigmatization of addiction. Let’s take a look at some of the common myths around addiction.
Addiction is an Excuse
There is a myth that addicts are using their addictions as an excuse for their bad behavior, for hurting people, for making dangerous choices. While this might be true for some people, most addicts are genuinely suffering and are struggling from an illness they don’t yet have the tools to battle successfully. Many are also grappling with severe mental health issues that make their struggles with addiction that much harder to recover from. Culturally we try to blame addicts for their problem, rather than seeing all of the many mental, emotional and physical factors that are contributing to their struggles.
Addiction is a Choice
Addiction is actually a disease, with genetic components that contribute to the illness. Studies have shown that addicts’ brains are impaired by addiction and function differently from healthy brains. When we assume addicts have a choice in their addiction, we’re failing to take into account the many health-related factors contributing to addiction, of which there are many. We assume that addicts lack willpower and that they just aren’t working hard enough to conquer their addiction, but in studying addiction, we see that there are several issues at play that go much deeper and that can undermine people’s resolve and their conviction to quit.
Addicts are Criminals
One of the many stereotypes contributing to the stigmatization of addiction is the myth that addicts are criminals. While addiction and criminal behavior can have correlations, not all addicts are criminals. Many people struggling with addiction aren’t engaged in any kind of criminal behavior. The criminalization of addiction actually prevents people from getting the help they need.
Addicts are Poor
Again, while addiction and poverty might be correlated in some people, many addicts are also holding down jobs, raising families, and living in nice homes. Addiction can impair people’s ability to function in their everyday lives, but it doesn’t always. Many addicts are otherwise functional and many are even quite successful. Addiction does not discriminate. There are addicts in every sector of society, affecting people of every socio-economic status.
Recovery for us is personal. Seventy-five percent of the Riverside Recovery staff has lived with addiction and successfully gone through the recovery process. Call us today: (800) 871-5440.