We live in a world where we have access to information 24/7 via our phones, television, radio, social media, and the Internet. While it is handy to have access to all this knowledge, it can sometimes be difficult to determine myths from facts. We don’t have time to talk about all the myths and facts in the world, so let’s just start with discussing some of the common myths about addiction.
- Myth #1: Addiction is a choice. There is often a misconception that addiction is solely a choice. It is true that it may start out as a choice to drink alcohol or try a substance (whether it is prescribed or not); however, I think it is safe to say that no one truly wakes up and says, “I choose to be an addict today.” In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is defined as a chronic brain disease that is evident by the long-lasting impacts substance use can have on the brain that can be visibly seen through scans of the brain.
- Myth #2: Addicts have a certain “look” and are bad people. Addiction does not discriminate against race, religion, socio-economic status, profession, age, or gender. Addiction can impact a person through all walks of life. Being an addict does not make the person “bad” any more than not being an addict makes a person “good.”
- Myth #3: If a doctor prescribed the medication, there is no risk of addiction. Unfortunately, every medication comes with potential side effects and risks. This does not necessarily mean that addiction is a side effect; however, it is a risk when prescribed narcotics, such as Percocet, hydrocodone, oxycodone, etc. I encourage each person prescribed medication, whether it be a painkiller or not, to discuss potential risks of the medication with his/her doctor.
- Myth #4: If a person has a job and/or family, he/she is not really addicted. Again, addiction does not discriminate. There are many “functioning addicts” that can maintain a job or family in the world. This often makes the person who has the addiction to live in a world of denial to the severity of his/her problem. Don’t get me wrong: just because a person is able to go to work does not mean that his/her addictions are not impacting other areas of life and addictions will not one day impact a person’s ability to function at work. But, just so we are on the same page, let’s say it together one more time for good measure: “addiction does not discriminate!”