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Myths of Addiction

Understanding Addiction

  • Myth: My husband can't be addicted to substances if he has a good job.

    Fact: Addicts are often thought of as unemployed, unproductive, criminal, and homeless. However over 70% of people with addictions are employed and live with their families. Addiction is a progressive disease that impacts all aspects of a person's life. If left untreated, it may eventually impact a person's career and family.

  • Myth: I can quit anytime I want. I've even quit for months at a time.

    Fact: Many people who are addicted do not realize how serious their drug or alcohol use is, and believe that they can stop at any time. A person may go periods of time, even weeks or months, and not drink alcohol or use drugs. Recurrence or relapse after periods of abstinence is a fundamental feature of addiction.

  • Myth: People have to hit rock bottom before getting help.

    Fact: There is a myth that a person has to hit rock bottom, or want to go to treatment in order to get help. At Jackson, we often see people enter into treatment even when they are not willing. After some time, when they have participated in treatment, they start to realize that a problem exists and are often as successful as somebody who wanted to attend treatment.

  • Myth: If someone relapses, that means treatment won't work

    Fact: Similar to other chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease, addiction can be treated. As with other chronic diseases, it is not uncommon for a person to relapse and begin using again. Relapse, however, does not signal treatment failure. Rather, it indicates that treatment should be adjusted to help the individual recover.

  • Myth: If people with addictions had more willpower they would be able to just quit.

    Fact: It can be wrongfully assumed that people with addictions lack moral principles or willpower and that they can stop using simply by choosing to change their behavior. In reality, addiction is a complex disease caused by chemical changes in the brain. Quitting takes more than good intentions. It takes a treatment program combined with the support of family and friends and participation in 12-step groups to help people live a life of recovery.

  • Myth: Addiction is a social problem or a problem of morals.

    Fact: People with addictions may behave in a way that is in violation of their own personal values or the laws of society. If one simply looks at the behavior of a person with addiction,they may believe that the person with addiction is, at their core, "a bad person." Addiction is caused by chemical changes in the brain. Therefore addiction is about the brain, not about morals.

  • Myth: If a person has an addiction, they should be absolved from all responsibility for their behaviors.

    Fact: Personal responsibility is important in all aspects of life, including how a person maintains their own health. It is often said in the addiction world that "You are not responsible for your disease, but you are responsible for your recovery." People with addiction need to take personal responsibility for how they manage their illness. Persons with addiction may commit criminal acts, and they could be held accountable by facing the consequences society has outlined for those actions.