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Myths and fantasies about drug or alcohol dependency

In this article we at Step Away Treatment Centre aim to bust a few myths and pop a few fantasies that are often mistaken for truths.

Rehabilitation centres are regularly faced with cases that involve individuals who unknowingly or ignorantly fell into addiction.

We are given the ability through social media to help educate and enlighten the public about drug and alcohol addiction and rehabilitation, our aim is to aid individuals in making accurately calculated choices and ensuring that all the necessary information about alcohol and drug addiction is available for anyone to use.

Myth #1: The Prescription Illusion

Often we are asked the question “If it’s a prescription, is it a drug?” Prescription drugs can be easily mistaken as safe and the idea that someone can be addicted to something a doctor has prescribed can be difficult to comprehend.

Although many medications are perfectly safe if taken in the prescribed dosage for a short period of time, prolonged use can be dangerous — and, yes, addictive.

Some prescription drugs are especially hazardous if the user exceeds the prescribed dosage or takes a combination of drugs.

Myth #2: “Natural” drugs are safer than synthetic ones

We have noticed that individuals repeatedly refer to Marijuana, mushrooms and other “natural” highs as “less bad” or “better than synthetic drugs” however these drugs still alter brain chemistry and produce dangerous side effects.

It is important to make individuals aware that they are still dangerous even if they are grown in the ground.

Myth #3: The heroin era, crack crisis and the age of ecstasy/mdma is over

A bad ideology that many believe is that drugs go away or phase themselves out.

It has been noted that certain drug trends become popular and then seem to diminish in popularity over time, however a drug doesn’t pose a lesser threat to an individual simply because it is associated with the culture of a previous decade.

Cocaine for instance was a drug of the seventies and heavy usage gradually phased out, but now we are now noticing the re-emergence of the drug and all of it’s bad attributes in recent times.

Myth #4: If you have a high alcohol tolerance, you obviously don’t have a drinking problem

The scariest part of this myth is that if an individual consumes several drinks and feels nothing, there is CLEARLY a problem present. 

For instance if a casual drinker managed to consume an entire six pack of their chosen alcohol - they would either be drunk or feeling very ill.

If an individual is drinking this much regularly and feeling fine, he/she needs help.

Myth #5: If you are functional and stable in your job and/or family life, you’re not addicted

This myth is popular as many believe that if they are functional in their everyday lives they do have a drug or alcohol dependency problem.

Being able to hold down a job or maintain relationships with loved ones doesn’t mean an individual is not dependent on drugs and alcohol.

Although an individual may be able to tread water and maintain their lifestyle and their substance dependency; there will come a time where the need for the substance will over-power the need to uphold their responsibilities and their addiction will become much more apparent and obvious to their loved ones and themselves.

Myth #6: Drug addiction is a choice

It can be said that drug use is a choice; however prolonged use of substances changes your body and brain chemistry.

When that occurs, the substance user no longer has a choice or much control over how they prioritise their lives and at this point the use and misuse becomes an addiction.

Myth #7: The myth that an individual is cured and free of addiction after detox

Detox is difficult and it marks just the beginning of the road to recovery.

Detox is the first step towards recovery, but addiction is a chronic illness — like diabetes, asthma or hypertension, it needs to be managed throughout an individual’s lifetime. There is no cure.

Myth #8: The idea that if an individual relapses there is little to no hope for them and a full recovery

Sadly in many cases relapse is almost certain. Often clients relapse and instant disbelief and disappointment is obvious.

However it is vital for individuals to know that relapse does not indicate absolutely no hope or lack of ability to commit to a sober life.

There is always the choice to try again and rethink the way sobriety was approached.

Myth #9: You need to be religious in order to get sober

Sobriety doesn’t require an individual to believe in God or subscribe to any organized religion.

It helps, however, if an individual believes in humanity, family, community, and the other good aspects of themselves.

Getting involved in activities that are soul-good and rewarding improves positivity in an individual’s life and helps maintain the idea of a sober life is a better life. 

Myth #10: Addicts are bad people

The belief that addicts are “bad” people trying to become “good” people is a terrible stereotype.

In many case substance abusers are sick people trying to get well.

The truth about addicts is that they are lawyers, farmers, soldiers, mothers and grandfathers who struggle with drug dependence on a daily basis.

They don’t belong to a particular race or exist only in certain parts of the country; they are proof that addiction doesn’t discriminate. Thankfully, neither does recovery.

Drug Awareness Week: 24 - 28 June 2014


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