Drug and alcohol addiction has for decades been classified as a disease. However, the humane and compassionate treatment of addicts is still a far cry from that of patients with other diseases. Here are four myths about addiction that damage the cause for compassionate treatment and perpetuate the widespread hostility toward substance abuse:
1. Addicts are bad people and deserve to face the consequences. The legal system in our country perpetuates the belief that drug and alcohol addicts should be punished for their condition – we have the largest prison population in the world partially because this is how addicts are handled, rather than providing sufficient counseling and support for their disease. The reality is that sick people need treatment to recover instead of punishment.
2. Addicts choose to abuse drugs or alcohol. Contrary to popular belief, addiction is not a choice and hardly happens intentionally. The recovery process is not just about exercising willpower to stop using; genetics account for part of a person’s predisposition to addiction, as do a person’s background including their childhood, family life and social influences.
3. Addicts choose one substance and stick to it. The abuse of multiple substances has become the norm rather than the exception, and many addicts mix cocktails of substances to intensify their high. In other cases, addicts may use other substances such as alcohol to counteract the effects of their drugs and calm them down.
4. Prescription drug addiction is different from other drugs. Because of the availability and familiarity of prescription drugs, many assume that they are safer than street drugs like cocaine or heroin. On the contrary however, prescription drugs pose the same risk for addiction and affect the same areas of the brain as street drugs – in fact, many prescription painkillers are almost chemically identical to heroin.
If you struggle with drug or alcohol addiction, contact Retreat to arrange immediate transportation from areas in Lancaster, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia or from surrounding states including OH, PA, NJ, DE, MD, WV and NY.