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“Addiction is not a disease but a lack of willpower.” “You could control it if you wanted to.”

It is often that people argue against the idea that addiction is a disease, and instead will insist that it is simply a lack of willpower. The fact is, addiction IS a disease. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse states, the use of drugs can affect a person’s brain, making quitting the substance difficult, no matter how strong their will to do so may be. Depending on the drug, they can affect the brain in a couple of ways. One being the imitation of chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters- the drug basically masquerades as vital neurotransmitters in the brain, and when the drug is taken away, the brain sees this as a deficit, causing withdrawal symptoms. The other is that once a drug reaches the brain, it triggers the reward system, creating a heightened physiological response and desire for more stimulation. Given that drugs create physical changes in the brain (and that some people have brains that are predisposed to addictive tendencies), the idea that the addict “could control their use and abuse if they so badly wanted to” is fallacious.

“Other addicts get clean from going to meetings, so can you.”

Yes, many addicts have attended AA or NA meetings and through that support they have been able to conquer their addiction. However, everyone is different and it is important that we throw out the old “one size fits all” theory towards addiction. If you have tried going to meetings and found that it was not enough for you to overcome your addiction, maybe higher levels of treatment are needed. Of course they may be more expensive, but living a life in recovery is ultimately priceless.

“Addicts are all the same – I have a family and stable job, I’m not addicted.”

Society over all seems to have this set idea of what an addict is. Unemployed, no ambition, criminal record, no loved ones, and the list goes on. The truth is, anyone can be an addict. There are people with an addiction who function on a daily basis through their work to support their family. The stereotype of an addiction not only harms those who fall under it, but those who do not. It allows people to believe they do not have a problem.

“Life in recovery is boring.”

When so much time was spent using substances to have more more fun, it is hard to believe that a life of sobriety is anything but well, boring. Don’t let this be the case. It may take time to get into the recovery lifestyle before the fun begins, but it is possible. There are more people than you realize that have an amazing fellowship and have fun, full social lives without using outside substances.

“I relapsed so treatment didn’t work, why try again?”

While relapse is something that we try to avoid, it does happen. The important thing to take from that is a lesson, not an acceptance to return to that old lifestyle. A relapse does not mean recovery did not work, it means that there is more work to be done in recovery to achieve a life of sobriety.

The addiction gene.

Addiction can be more common in families of addicts or alcoholics, however it is not a specific gene. Many people seem to believe that addiction is nothing but hereditary, but there is no specific gene sequence that causes an individual to be an addict. There is likely a genetic contribution to addiction, but that contribution looks to be a function of a host of different genes, the specific balance of which and formula for has yet to be discovered.

“You have to hit rock bottom for recovery.”

It is common that many people must lose their jobs, family and friends, and everything else before they decide to get treatment. However, there are times when people decide they are tired of living in a life of addiction, or have a bad experience that leads to the decision to receive help. It is not a necessity to hit rock bottom to get treatment, only having the willingness to make a change.

Addiction for life.

Some people struggle with addiction over the course of a lifetime, but some may take a much shorter period of time to become open to a life of recovery. Regardless, once a person has been labeled as an addict by society, that label seems to remain. This can be detrimental or even offensive for someone successfully in recovery who no longer wants to be viewed as an addict, but someone who fought and recovered from addiction. Thankfully, people are speaking out and steps are being taken to reducing the stigma surrounding addiction.

If you think you may have a problem with drugs or alcohol, call the addiction specialists at Serenity Acres for a confidential assessment. 1-800-203-2024.