The addiction community is not typically thought of as contributing members of society, however once in recovery they are able to reinvent themselves in ways they never thought imaginable. This transformation usually entails developing multi-million dollar enterprises from the ground up harnessing their creative abilities and tapping into their latent business prowess in the process and empowering other misfortunate souls. The stigma that people who become addicted to drugs and alcohol are somehow ne’er do wells who have little to offer the “real” world is an outdated perception that needs to be turned on its head. The following are four misconceived notions of addiction that undermine the road to recovery:
1. Addicts are Weak People Who Can’t Cut it in the Real World
Although addiction can make people do horrible and unthinkable things it doesn’t mean they are any less worthy of help or compassion. Society has somehow been indoctrinated with the illusion that if you are an addict you are automatically debased, dishonest and unscrupulous character. It is true that people in the throes of addiction do many harmful things to themselves and others.
However just because someone does something that is considered terrible by society’s standards doesn’t mean that they are deserving of the public ridicule and condemnation. People who are addicted aren’t acting in accordance with their own inner integrity and morals. Addiction makes people who are otherwise good people temporarily do awful and unspeakable acts. However instead of judging them and discarding them from society altogether they need help in the form of treatment.
2. Addiction is Voluntary
Addiction is a disease and it can strike and take hold of anyone at anytime. Recovery does not simply entail making the choice to free one’s self from addiction. Addiction is a complex set of factors and variable and genetics plays a major role in determining who will fall victim to its wrath. Social upbringing and environment also play decisive factors in whether or not someone will eventually be susceptible to the burden of drugs and alcohol.
Before the onset of addiction the brain begins to change as a result of exposure to chemical substances. Over time these changes in the brain regulate the areas responsible for impulse control and pleasure rendering the addict practically incapable of exercising any discretion or willpower when it comes to these substances. They literally become a slave to the drug.
3. Some Substances are Worse than Others
Some people are under the misconception that if you’re addicted to a certain type of substance that you are a lesser person than if you are addicted to food, television, alcohol or any other legal substance. Addiction does not discriminate and because a person has an affinity towards a certain kind of drug or chemical substance does not make them any worse on the spectrum of addiction.
We all to some degree exhibit some form of addiction whether it be food, sex or shopping. Some addictive behaviors have more of a social stigma associated with them, but that doesn’t make them any more or less dangerous or devastating. All addictions need to be treated with reverence and sympathy from people not in recovery.
4. Addicts Should Be Cured Once in Treatment
Despite the fact that leading medical professionals are all generally in agreement that addiction is a disease similar to cancer, the general consensus among the population is that addicts are subhuman. In that same vein many rehab centers take the approach of humiliating the addict and convincing them that they are inherently flawed in some way. This tactic of shaming the patient into guilt-ridden feelings of inadequacy has proven to be a very counterproductive method to treatment.
Regardless of the research proving the contrary the media continues to focus on the classic model of addiction as an intrinsic character flaw. Similarly they vilify treatment centers that provide what can be considered luxurious and tranquil settings to its patients. Studies have shown that set and setting play a significant role in whether or not that patient will continue clean and sober or relapse.
It is clear that many of these myths regarding addiction have continued to perpetuate a negative bias when it comes to recovery and treatment. However once these myths are dispelled you will see that it is not so simple and that recovery is possible.