One of the greatest public health issues of the contemporary era is substance use disorder, more generally referred to as “addiction.” Hundreds of thousands of people die yearly in the United States from overdoses related to substance abuse. Here is the worst part: Only 10% of those who may benefit from treatment for drug abuse disorders do so. Unfortunately, addiction medicine is a complex and often misunderstood field, with numerous myths and misconceptions surrounding it. This article will examine some of the most common myths about East Village addiction medicine and shed light on the truth behind them.
Myth 1: Addiction is a decision and not a disease
One of the most pervasive myths about addiction is that it is a disease simply a matter of choice. Many people believe that those who struggle with addiction are merely choosing to use drugs or alcohol and that they could quit if they wanted to. It is not true.
In reality, addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that changes how the brain functions. Research has shown that the use of drugs and alcohol can lead to physical and chemical changes in the brain that can result in compulsive drug-seeking behavior, even in the face of negative consequences.
Myth 2: Withdrawal symptoms are the only indicator of addiction
Withdrawal symptoms including vomiting, sweating, and shaking, are common signs of addiction. However, these symptoms are not the only indicators. Many individuals with addiction do not experience physical withdrawal symptoms.
Other signs of addiction include a loss of control over drug use, the inability to stop using drugs even when trying to, and a preoccupation with obtaining and using drugs. Additionally, individuals with addiction may experience changes in their behavior, such as neglecting responsibilities, engaging in criminal activity, or having strained relationships.
Myth 3: Addiction is a personal weakness
Another myth about addiction is that it is a personal weakness or a failure of will. It could not be further from the truth. Addiction is a complex disease that can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, or socio-economic status.
Research has shown that genetic, environmental, and psychological factors can all play a role in the development of addiction. While personal choices can certainly contribute to the onset of addiction, it is not simply a matter of personal weakness or a lack of willpower.
Myth 4: Addiction can be cured with willpower alone
Many people believe that addiction can be overcome through sheer willpower and determination. While strong will and determination can certainly help individuals in recovery, addiction cannot be cured by willpower alone.
Effective addiction treatment typically involves a combination of medications, behavioral therapy, and support from friends and family. In some cases, detoxification and rehabilitation may also be necessary.
Myth 5: Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is just exchanging one addiction for another
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a widely-used approach to treating addiction, involving the use of FDA-approved medications, such as methadone or buprenorphine, in combination with behavioral therapy and support. Despite its effectiveness, some view MAT as exchanging one addiction for another.
In reality, MAT has significantly improved outcomes for individuals with addiction, reducing the risk of overdose, improving treatment retention, and increasing the likelihood of sustained recovery. Additionally, MAT medications are carefully regulated and monitored to ensure safe and effective use.
The myths and misconceptions surrounding addiction medicine can lead to misunderstandings and harmful beliefs about those struggling with addiction. By examining the truth behind these myths, you can help to dispel the stigma surrounding addiction and provide individuals with the support and resources they need to achieve lasting recovery.