Substance abuse affects millions of people each year. Those struggling with addiction face mental health issues, joblessness, homelessness, and more.
The friends and family members of addicts also have a difficult time. They may lose someone they love or live in fear that they’ll lose the person to an overdose or substance-related accident.
Are you or someone you know struggling with addiction or working towards recovery? If so, it’s important to break down the stigmas associated with this condition.
Misunderstandings and stigmas are ingrained in our society’s understanding of addiction. To help you better understand addiction and recovery, we’ve compiled 7 facts that address common misconceptions.
1. Addiction is a Not a Choice
For decades, society has written off addiction as a moral failure. But now people have stopped to ask the question: is addiction a disease or a choice? Thanks to ongoing research, scientists have been able to shine a light on this. In short, addiction is a disease.
Why is this? Well, research indicates that long-term drug and alcohol use rewires the brain. Over time, it changes the way the brain functions. The disease has a neurological basis, just like many other common disorders. Once we can treat addiction as a medical disease, not simply a choice, the better we’ll be able to approach it.
2. It Has a Genetic Component
We now understand addiction as a chronic disease. It’s also important to note that it has a genetic component as well. If someone has a close family member with a history of addiction, that person has a higher risk of developing it. Understanding the genetic makeup of addiction plays a part in prevention, treatment, and recovery.
3. Addicts Shouldn’t Be Blamed for Their Addiction
Another thing to remember is that addicts shouldn’t be blamed for their addiction. However, it is the responsibility of the addict to seek treatment. When people pour shame and guilt on those struggling with addiction, it often makes their journey to recovery more difficult.
4. Medicated Assisted Treatment is a Viable Option
Medicated assisted treatment (also known as MAT) has become a valuable, often life-saving resource for many struggling with addiction. It is especially useful for those dealing with opioid use disorder. Like other chronic diseases, sometimes addiction recovery is aided by certain medications. Most of these treatments are used in conjunction with regular counselling sessions.
5. Relapse Happens
For those recovering from addiction, relapse is a common occurrence. It is important to remember that relapse doesn’t mean an individual has failed in their recovery. It means that they need to continue treatment. They may relapse many times before they end up on a steady path.
6. It Can Happen to Anyone
Addiction does not discriminate. It does not choose someone based on their gender, race, income, or age. Instead, it can happen to anyone of any background. For this reason, people from all walks of life must be able to come together and support one another.
7. Recovery is a Lifelong Process
Another misconception about recovery is that once a person is better, they’re done recovering. The truth, however, is that recovery is a lifelong process. Addiction is a lasting disease that stays with a person long after the initial battle is over. Understanding it in this way may help people stay sober for longer and reduce relapses.
These are a few important facts about addiction and recovery that everyone should know. The more you know about this disease and how it’s viewed, the better. You can more adequately process your treatment or the treatment of someone you love.