Woman smoking addiction

Drug Addiction and Its Effects are a mystery to many – what are some of the top myths about drug addiction?

Drug addiction is such a common topic of discussion because all of us have been affected by it at some point in our lives – either you have a loved one or a friend who has taken drugs before, or you have been in the throes of an addiction.

Despite the common occurrences of the scourge, drug addiction remains one of the most misunderstood topics because of the numerous misinformation and myths surrounding it. Another factor could be the emotional basis of abusing drugs, so opinions will be different according to individuals. It is however dangerous for such a sensitive issue as drug abuse to attract such wide variations on opinions, and it is a good idea to consider the common myths regarding the topic.

Drug Addiction Busting Common Myths

You can end using the drug when you want

There has been some opinion that an addict can always quit the drug cold turkey whenever they wish, and this belief extends to addicts themselves. It can be easy to wonder why the person in question does not just stop, since they know the drug is bad for them – and stopping the drug can be used by a loved one as a blackmail tactic, such as ‘if you loved me, you would stop smoking’. It is even easier to assume that the addict is willing and wants to be an addict.

This view is completely ignorant of what addiction is – NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) defines it as a persistent condition that forces the user to seek out and use the drug substance. That usage is a recurring condition that will happen irrespective of the circumstances or results, even if those consequences are undesirable. The addict will lose the things and people that are important to them, as well as their mental and physical health.

Quitting is even more difficult because of the dependence of the body on the drug. This leads to a situation where the body requires the drug in order to function normally, and when the addict does not access the substance,they become mentally and physically distressed, a phenomenon known as withdrawal. This phase is very dangerous and can be life-threatening, depending on the type of drug and the extent of addiction. This is the reason why all drug addicts require help, such as admittance to MA drug rehab facilities. 

All addictions are consequences of moral failings

This is difficult to go on board with because it is both true and false at the same time. It can be true because the decision to use a drug is exactly that – an individual’s choice.

However, instances exist of a person using a drug without their knowledge, because they were drugged by someone else. Other instances exist of someone using a drug on multiple occasions without having an addiction, and only started to abuse it more often once the signs of addiction began to appear.

The addiction rate of an individual is dependent on several factors that include their body weight, genetics, developmental factors such as past trauma or PTSD, and personality factors such as impulsion and tolerance to distress.

The sole marker of an addiction is changes in the brain chemistry, making it difficult to stop using the substance – that makes addiction to be more of a disease instead of a moral failing. Multiple attempts to stop result in relapses because of the failure to recover effectively.

Alcoholic lying on table

All drug users are addicts

There is more to addiction than just drug use, and there are signs that are specific to drug addicts as well. These may include changes in sleep patterns, deteriorating quality of relationships, mental and emotional agitation when they have not used the drug, as well as increasing tolerance to the drug – making them seek out more of it to achieve the same highs.

Addictions will also develop differently according to the unique circumstances and features of the person, as well as the specific drug (not all of them have the same addiction rate), and the reasons for using the substance.

It is easy to identify addicts

When you think of a drug addict, you may have a certain mental image of how they look like – maybe their clothes are rough, they look unkempt, they are male, unemployed, or criminals.

Many of the stereotypes are false, as drug addicts can be found anywhere and in any profession. For instance, women who are abusing drugs are increasing in number, and they are now overtaking the rates of male addicts. In addition, many addicts are people that have the money to spend – addiction is a very expensive habit to maintain, so many will be well-off people with good jobs and earning very high salaries.

Woman at desk job

As long as you can go to work or do normal activities, you are not an addict

It is a common phase of drug addiction – the stage of denial. Many addicts will tell you that they can perform their normal duties, go to work, or attend classes, but the truth is many of them can, despite their addiction.

Those normal activities you do are in fact the last ones to suffer because of your addiction. After all, you want to maintain your social standing for as long as you can, but this will eventually decrease over time as the addiction progresses.

Keep in mind that addiction effects will increase in certain individuals, while for others it will go slower. There is no existent rule that dictates the rate of addiction to substances.

Only ‘hard drugs’ are dangerous

Yes, to some extent this is true, because of the addictive nature of these drugs. Substances like methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin have a reputation in the drug world for this, but they are not the only ones.

Any substance is actually capable of leading to an addiction, and any substances can potentially harm you. Even the so called ‘lighter drugs’ such as marijuana, alcohol and prescription drugs have addiction stories, even though the rates may be slower for many people.

Prescription pills addiction

Final thoughts

The issue of drug abuse is not something you can avoid easily, and it has the potential to affect you as well. You therefore need to know the myths surrounding drug use as well as different drugs, so that you know how to help someone with an addiction when it happens.

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