Substance abuse is a mental illness, despite what most people think. The idea that an addict chooses addiction over their life is a common one, which can actually have a negative impact on their recovery process.
This is only one of the many myths which surround addiction and encourage an unhelpful behavior from those around addicted people. The truth is addiction is nothing to joke about and it's just as serious as other illnesses, such as depression or diabetes.
Here are some of the myths an addict has to fight each day on their already very bumpy road towards living sober.
I can use a little
According to rehabilitation clinics most relapses happen when a former addict thinks they can use a little of their substance, without losing control again. When you've been addicted to a substance there is no middle way: it's either all or none. When you are on your rehab process and fail for the myth that you can still use a little, you just relapse.
The most common example is the one of former alcohol addicts who take one more sip of their favorite drink and wake up the next morning with a huge hangover and being addicted.
It's all their choice
Those who don't have an addict in their family and never had often say that addiction is a choice. But it's not a choice. The choice might be when you take the drug for the first time, but not even this is a choice in many cases.
Think of pain medicine addicts who had to take pain medication and their system just became addicted to it. Addiction is an illness, because the brain goes under several changes which makes the drug use compulsive, so the addicted person looses all control over their action when it comes to using the drug.
You can't help an addict
Actually, you can! This is a dangerous myth which can push make recovery even harder than it already is. Family and friends can support an addict, even if they can't force them into acknowledging their illness.
During the recovery process your support group is highly valuable and it can make the difference between a relapse and saying on the right path.
All addicts look the same
Society has been creating stereotypes since forever and one of the most common is the one of the addict. But not all addicts are the same; anyone can become addicted to anything, at any moment.
It can be the nice mother who is pushing the stroller or the guy who is begging for money at the corner. Addictions are also very diverse, as well as the people who end up tangled in them.
Addiction is easy to cure
Recovering from an addiction is more than just stop using the drug, become sober and stay away from the substance in the future. There is the withdrawal process, there is the challenge of living sober and the challenge to resist temptations in the future. Most of the time people learn to manage their addiction, instead of curing it.