From HBO’s deeply insightful series Addiction comes this list on myths of addiction (adapted from Myths of Addiction by Carlton K. Erickson, Ph.D.):
- Addicts are bad, crazy, or stupid.
- Addiction is a willpower problem. (Addiction occurs in an area of the brain called the mesolimbic dopamine system, which is not under conscious control.)
- Addicts should be punished, not treated, for using drugs.
- People addicted to one drug are addicted to all drugs.
- Addicts cannot be treated with medications.
- Addiction is treated behaviorally, so it must be a behavioral problem. (Addiction is a brain disorder that is treated by changing brain function through several types of treatments, like medicine and/or psychotherapy.)
- Alcoholics can stop drinking simply by attending AA, meetings, so they can’t have a brain disease.
And the two biggest myths…addicts must reach rock bottom before they can recover, and addicts must desire treatment to recover. In fact, the longer an addict waits to seek treatment, the more difficult treatment becomes; and even addicts who are forced into treatment can recover fully.