Addiction is a horrible thing. Many people believe that the addict is the only one that has a problem. The truth is that addiction is a disease that can impact everybody in the user's life.
There are a lot of different addictions, the most common ones being drink and drugs, but the list goes on, and the fact remains that for many addicts there is still a large stigma associated with their condition. One that can mean the difference between them getting help and feeling overwhelmed and alone.
Relationships are stretched, bridges are burned and then when it is time for recovery, a new set of challenges are set for those that stood by the user's side.
What happens when somebody you love enters recovery, or completes recovery and comes home? What do you do if they relapse? Does that mean the game is over and there is nothing more you can do?
There are a lot of different interesting facts about addiction and even more addiction myths that we need to break as a society to position ourselves to best help addicts and that in need of help.
Does life just continue on as it was? Does the user merely have to avoid certain situations and everything will be rosy?
The truth is that life changes for everybody when an addict is in recovery.
Keep reading for some interesting addiction facts to help you understand how you can best help your recovering loved one(s).
There will be sacrifices but the greater goal is a long future with the ones you hold dear.
1. Myth: Addiction is Substance Specific
When a lot of people think about addiction, they think of singular addictions. They say, he is addicted to alcohol, or addicted to a certain type of drug.
They rarely think of multiple addictions affecting the same person. This thinking gave rise to the turn of phrase 'their drug of choice'. It boiled addiction down into a selection process, choosing a poison and sticking with it. This is one of the largest myths about addictions.
Times have changed, and the world has moved on. As of today, you will find more addicts being treated for what is now termed, polysubstance abuse than anything else.
What was once the exception has become the norm.
There are two core elements behind polysubstance abuse.
- People are taking multiple drugs because they can experience a greater and more powerful high.
- People are taking one drug because the effects counterbalance the effect of another drug or drug combination they are taking.
Alcohol is one of the most common addictions, and a core ingredient of polysubstance abuse, the effects of which can be far ranging.
Because alcohol changes the way the human body responds to certain drugs. It can enhance the effect to the point where what would have been a small high when sober can become potentially fatal when under the influence of alcohol.
There is a second shift in polysubstance abuse cases that is from the illegal street drugs to more readily available prescription medication.
Prescription drugs were responsible for 45% of overdose deaths in 2017. This is because people have the misguided belief that prescription and over the counter medications such as painkillers or Xanax are safer than street drugs.
We see people take them all the time and never stop to question if they are abusing that drug. It's a mindset and a state of awareness that is changing but still has a long way to go.
2. Truth: Detox is a Supervised Medical Process
Many people think that they can deal with detox alone. They can beat their addictions by locking themselves away and relying on pure willpower to get through it.
It is a very noble thought, but the truth is that if their willpower to quit was strong enough to truly make solo recovery possible then they were unlikely to have become an addict in the first place.
That is not a golden rule, there are and always will be exceptions to this. However, if you or anybody you love is considering a solo detox, you need to talk them down and get them to a specialist treatment facility.
When an addict enrolls at a treatment facility they are admitting they have a problem and admitting that they need help. This alone is a psychological breakthrough that can have a long-term positive influence on that person's recovery.
Treatment centers do not force people to go cold turkey. There is a process, a weaning off period. This is because the body can become so accustomed to drugs, removing them completely can have serious complications.
Withdrawal is not pretty, and it is not fun to have to go through, either alone or in the arms of someone not trained to deal with it.
Allowing an addict to skip the medical supervision required for true detox and addiction recovery is not beneficial for long-term success. It is a process, a guided journey that moves one step at a time.
One of the more interesting facts about addiction and detox is that the method of ingestion used can have a direct impact on the treatment timeline. A more direct form of delivery, such as snorting can mean a more intensive detox process.
3. Myth: Addicts Should be Treated With Shame
When you were a kid did your mother ever hit you with the phrase 'I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed'?
That sentence hurts. It cuts to the bone. Why?
It is shame, and that is a powerful and emotional thing to feel. From both sides of the coin.
While that may work well for naughty children, it is not a valid way to help an addict recover.
Another one of the interesting facts about drugs is that addiction is a condition. Recognized by leading officials as a chronic disease akin to heart disease or diabetes.
Yet, in spite of this, people still hold on to the misguided belief that addicts choose to become so and can stop at any time. It is one of the most hurtful myths about addiction that addicts choose to be where they are simply because they wanted to be there.
It is a damaging and dangerous stigma that will hurt more people attempting to recover than it will aid them.
Drug use is not as simple as people once thought. It is not necessarily merely a case of escapism.
We are creatures driven by reward and the good sensations. Drugs can give those good sensations regardless of their harmful effects. However, as addiction to the high takes hold, our brains are changed.
Addicts stop taking drugs because of the high they feel, but rather they need to take them because that allows them to feel normal.
Continued drug use changes what the addict views as normal, and that is how the deepening cycle of abuse can sweep people away.
Given that drug abuse is an illness rather than some simple character flaw, trying to shame an addict into recovery is just not going to work. It could push them further away so that when they are ready to get help they feel as if there is nobody there to support them.
4. Myth: Every Addict Will Relapse
It is one of the interesting facts about addiction that a relapse can happen at any time. After all, you never stop being an addict.
However, on the back of that comes on the large addiction myths, that all addicts will relapse, and many at the first possible opportunity.
Relapse is indeed a part of recovery, and for some addicts, the pressures will be too much and a relapse will happen. For approximately 50% of addicts, relapse will be part of their journey. However, those numbers are the same for people trying to make any healthy lifestyle choice or change. For those people, it is part of their journey.
Associated with this myth is the misconception that an addict will only relapse with their previous addictions. While it is perfectly plausible that an addict could replace one addiction with another.
As we said above, addiction is a condition and that is not something you can change.
Similarly, a lot of people will see an addict relapsing as a lack of conviction and interest in recovery. This is not the truth. Recovery from addiction is not purely a matter of being motivated. If it were then detox would be a simple process that would not even warrant a discussion on the subject.
What is important to remember for anybody going through recovery or who has a loved one going through it, is that recovery is a process. It is not a one-stop shop. For some, that process will be smooth, and others will be a bumpy road. Just remember that relapse does not mean failure. It simply means that your journey is continuing.
5. Myth: You Can Enter Rehab Before Hitting Rock Bottom
One of the other persistent addiction myths is that you need to have hit that 'rock bottom' point of your life before you can get help and break the cycle.
That could not be further from the truth, and in fact, perpetuating that line of thought could be harmful to the addict in your life.
You never know you have hit that low point until you are there, so why think about stopping or getting help if you don't feel that desperate yet?
It's an old-school train of thought that will cost lives.
The best time to start rehab and is yesterday. That's the truth of it. As soon as someone is able to admit that they have a problem with addiction action can be taken. To look at it from the other perspective, as soon as you suspect a loved one is battling an addiction of some sort it is time for the intervention.
Addiction and recovery is a marathon. There will be ups and downs, but the earlier you can see the signs and take action the better the prognosis will be for everybody concerned.
The rock-bottom addiction myths apply to everybody involved. You don't need to be at your wit's end before you step up and help. Take action early and start the rebuild together.
Many people think that rehab is a single solution, and a relapse is a sign of weakness. The two go hand in hand. It is a marathon; a second chance at life, and breaking the unhealthy habits takes time. Replacing them with healthy habits takes even longer.
Breaking the Stigma of Addiction Will Go a Long Way to Helping Recovery
There is no magic word or special formula that can cure someone of their addiction. It may sound harsh but an addict will always be an addict, they are just in different phases of their life.
Rehab and recovery are possible and is proven by the three million people who enter a rehabilitation facility each year.
The simple addiction facts are that it is an upward struggle for many, and the negative stigma associated with addicts only adds to the pressures.
It is time to change the way the world views addicts and rally around how we can help those that need it, even when they don't realize they want it.
It can be as simple as a mindset change, recognizing that addiction and dependency problems are not a choice but a condition that cannot always be controlled. Perspective sheds a different light on addiction and the more people are aware of the real facts about addictions the more help and resources there will be for those that need it.
If you want to find out more about treatment programs and the options you have, then check out the resources on our site.