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Common Myths of Addiction

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: August 27th, 2021


James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

Addiction is a complicated disease that is frequently misunderstood. These misunderstandings can easily lead to beliefs and behaviors that make it harder for family, friends, and loved ones of substance abusers to help them. Moreover, these same misunderstandings can lead family and friends to blame themselves or engage in unhealthy behaviors or relationships. Understanding addiction, and these five top myths of addiction and recovery, is the first step to successfully fighting it, whether one is abusing substances themselves or is the loved one of someone who is.

1) It’s All About Willpower

Many people believe that beating drug addiction is as simple as demonstrating enough willpower, and that substance abusers are just lazy or weak. These beliefs can be even more common when the addicted person is a family member or loved one who has hurt those closest to them because of an addiction. However, the prevailing medical consensus is that addiction is a disease that physically changes the mind of those it touches. While personal agency and responsibility are important, it is also important to remember that addiction often requires professional help and multiple attempts at recovery before it can be deemed a success.

2) Relapse Is A Failure of Recovery

Relapse is an obstacle to recovery, but it is not the end. “Relapse” is seen as a dirty word. The reasons are obvious – recovery is about abstaining from drugs or alcohol, and relapse involves the risk of falling back into destructive habits and behaviors that one thought were left behind. However, as important as it is to focus on relapse prevention, one should also recognize how common relapse is and have strategies in place to deal with it effectively should it occur. Relapse is not the time to give up or conclude that treatment has failed – it’s time to redouble efforts, look at the situations or challenges that led to relapse, and find ways to alter treatment to address these roadblocks to recovery.

3) Addiction Means You’ve Failed as a Loved One

Often, family members and friends blame themselves for a loved one’s addiction. If only they had done something differently, the logic goes – been a better parent, a better sibling, a better friend – then maybe this wouldn’t have happened. Countless factors contribute to the likelihood of drug addiction, from genetics, to the people a person surrounds themselves with, to economic, social, and biological reasons. Blaming oneself does nothing to help the situation. Instead, arming oneself with the knowledge and tools to help the addicted person, whether in the form of holding an intervention, discontinuing enabling behaviors, or working on one’s relationship with the addicted person, can help the person move toward recovery.

4) Addiction Can Be Treated in Isolation

People often have a tendency to view addiction in isolation. If addiction can be “cured”, they figure, then all the other problems in a person’s life will follow suit. It’s crucial to recognize, however, the ways in which co-occurring mental disorders, such as anxiety or depression can feed into a person’s addiction and worsen recovery outcomes. Trying to treat addiction without treating underlying emotional or mental issues, such as unresolved trauma, can be like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound. It is vital to seek professional help and to find treatment that views and treats addiction and co-occurring mental illness as related.

5) Addiction Always Looks the Same

It’s easy to get an exaggerated idea of what drug addiction looks like from the news, media, and other popular depictions. The stereotypical addicted person is homeless, unable to hold down a job, has obvious physical manifestations of their drug habit, and behaves erratically more often than not. While any number of these can be the case, some people suffering from addiction appear perfectly “normal” from the outside and don’t even realize it themselves. People who overmedicate for chronic pain, drink in isolation on weekends, or overindulge in party drugs can still hold down jobs and appear to function normally. It’s important for family and loved ones to pay attention to key addiction behaviors, and be familiar enough with friends and family to tell if something is wrong.

Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire offers numerous facilities providing a spectrum of professional care, from medical detox to inpatient drug rehab to sober living. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction to alcohol or drugs, we can help. Our unique blend of 12-step work with proven clinical modalities ensures that you have a structured plan for recovery that is reinforced with therapy, life skills training, multiple forms of active recovery, and community. We will give you or your loved one the tools to beat drug addiction and achieve sustained recovery. Call our admissions specialists today. We can help. Call 855.712.7784 .

Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.