Debunking Myths About Drug Addiction and Treatment

Often, the obstacle against helping a troubled teen struggle against drugs is misinformation. There are a number of misconceptions about this issue that can cause fear and complicate the path towards healing and recovery. Thus, these misconceptions regarding drug addiction and its treatment should be confronted head on so that those involved (the teen and his loved ones) can make informed choices (about a possible troubled teen program) and face the road to healing with realistic expectations.

Here are some myths about drug addiction:

Myth #1: If the teen wants to recover, his willpower is enough.

This myth is based on another myth: that drug addiction is a choice. If addiction is a choice, once can also choose to stop using. There should be a distinction between use and addiction. Drug use is a choice. However, once the drugs have wreaked its havoc on one’s brain and body chemistry, addiction becomes compulsive and even all consuming for the drug abuser. Thus, sheer willpower is not enough for a teen to overcome this problem.

Sheer willpower will also not necessarily speed up recovery. Some may need more time and repeated sessions for the recovery to be complete and successful.

Myth #2: Once an addict, always an addict.

Drug addiction does not need to define someone and forever make him a victim. Recovery is possible, as many have proven, especially with a multi-pronged approach. But it is also helpful to recognize that recovery will need a lot of hard work from the recovering addict and those around him.

Myth #3: The effectiveness of a treatment is solely based on one’s desire for treatment.

For one, addicts do not want or seek recovery. If given a choice, most will tend to want to continue their own way and resist treatment. Thus, treatment does not need to be voluntary. It can be brought about by a court order or strong pressure from loved ones. However, as the cloud of addiction clears, the addict finally may be able to see the strong reason why he needs to recover.

Myth #4: Drug addicts are bad.

This is an unfair characterization as there is more to the person and his story than meets the eye. Do not try to place an addict into the “he is an addict and therefore has a character flaw” stereotype. Addicts come in a variety of forms – from driven and ambitious to one without any drive or ambition, from low-income earners to high-flying achievers, from one who lives decently or even lavishly to one who is homeless, from one who is highly religious to one who does not subscribe to any faith. Dispelling this myth can help the addict or those around recognize the possibility that someone who does not show the “usual signs” can, indeed, be deep into addiction. Rather than labeling one as “good” or “bad”, loved ones need to recognize that the addict is sick and will most likely need professional help as they work to provide positive, loving yet firm support.

Myth #5: Allow the addiction to run its course. Once the addict hits his lowest low is the time for loved ones to get help.

Treatment can be provided at any stage of one’s addiction process. Experience shows that the sooner one gets help, the more his chances of recovery and the fewer his scars. This is especially true for teens. There are a number of troubled teen services that are designed to reverse the damage caused by the use and abuse of drugs even as they work to mitigate related consequences such as the possibility of being involved in crime as well as falling prey to a variety of infection and diseases.

In addition, individuals have differing “rock bottoms”. One may decide towards recovery once they lose something important to him. However, there may be some addicts who are prepared to lose everything, even their life, just to support their addiction. Do not wait until your teen has become so firmly entrenched with his addiction for you to make your move.

Myth #6: Treatment is a one-shot and one-size-fits-all affair.

Recovery, more often than not, is not achieved by a one-shot deal. Rather, it is a continuous process, where the recovering addict needs to still be on his guard long after treatment has been completed. There are also some who may need repeated sessions or to try a different treatment modality. Individuals will respond differently to different treatment programs, even when their drug of choice is the same.

Myth #7: Relapse means that the addict is hopeless.

As a loved one, recognize that a relapse may and does happen. But that does not mean that the addict is without hope of recovering. It may take a long process and a lot of patience and support before a teen is able to overcome issues of drug addiction. What loved ones need to do is to help the relapsing teen to get back to his recovery program.

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