There are so many misconceptions about people struggling with addictions. We hear things like, “addicts are only people with weak moral character.” Or “addicts choose to remain addicted,” or “an addict needs tough love to help lead them to recovery.” Whatever the misconception is, there are way too many incorrect ideas out there around addiction.
There are also many misconceptions surrounding the actual overcoming of addictions.
Here are 4 common misconceptions that people have about overcoming addictions:
1. Addictions only affect the lower class.
It is a fairly common misconception that addictions only affect the lower class. Many people incorrectly think that only people that are in certain classes or races develop addictions. That is so far from the truth. People from all races, social classes, income levels, religions, etc are affected by addictions.
It is important to understand the wide range of people who develop addictions. Addictions are caused by many different things, mostly biological. Sure, some environmental factors or life experiences may impact a person’s developing an addiction or ability to overcome, but they are by no means even close to the number one factor.
How does this relate to overcoming addictions? Well, once you understand that addictions have many different causes, you are able to understand that there are many different paths to overcoming addictions. Once you understand that addictions are generally caused by biological responses in a person’s brain or body, you will realize that they are not as easy to overcome as you might have once guessed.
2. All it takes is willpower.
Another common misconception surrounding overcoming addictions is that they are easy to overcome. You hear people say that if the addicted person just reaches inside and finds some willpower, or if they were stronger, then they would be able to overcome their addiction. Again, this is not true! Yes, it does take willpower to overcome an addiction… and a whole lot of it. But it takes more than just willpower to be able to overcome an addiction.
Without willpower, hard work, and determination no one will ever overcome an addiction. But it takes more than that! It takes support, and guidance. Sometimes it requires professional help to help an addict work through their addiction.
3. All it takes is “12 Steps.”
Again, another misconception about overcoming addictions: all it takes is twelve steps. “If we can just get them into a program they’ll be good.” Anytime you hear the words “all it takes” when it comes to overcoming addictions, you know you’re on the wrong path.
Again, every person is different. They have different bodies, different experiences, etc. All addictions are different, and all paths towards recovery are different. It is not enough to “get someone into a program” and then call it good. Addiction treatment programs have proven to be very successful in helping people work through addictions and get on a path towards recovery. But in themselves they may not be enough. An addict will need continued willpower, support, etc to be able to help them through this tough process.
4. If someone stops using the substance they are no longer addicted.
This misconception is so very far from the truth. The truth is, addiction is a chronic condition; it never goes away. Just because someone learns to abstain from the addictive substance it doesn’t mean the addiction has gone away. They are still addicted to it. They can stay away from the substance for any given number of years, but as an addict, if they were to partake of the substance at any given time they could immediately become addicted again. The desire remains, no matter how long they are able to stay away. This means that an addict must always stay away from their addictive substance. There is no casual use in their future.