The five myths, with a brief explanation, are:
1) Addicts are bad people who deserve to be punished.
"Driven by changes in the brain brought on by prolonged drug use, they lie, cheat and steal to maintain their habit. But good people do bad things, and sick people need treatment – not punishment – to get better.";
2) Addiction is a choice.
"Brain imaging studies show that differences in the brain are both a cause and effect of addiction. Long before drugs enter the picture, there are neurobiological differences in people who become addicted compared to those who do not become addicted. Once an individual starts using drugs, prolonged drug use changes the structure and function of the brain, making it difficult to control impulses, feel pleasure from natural rewards like sex or food, and focus on anything other than getting and using drugs.";
3) People usually get addicted to one type of substance.
"Polysubstance abuse – the use of three or more classes of substances – is the norm, not the exception.";
4) People who get addicted to prescription drugs are different from people who get addicted to illegal drugs.
"Because medications like Vicodin, Xanax and Adderall can be prescribed by a doctor, are relatively safe when used as prescribed, and are already sitting in most people’s medicine cabinets, there is a widespread misconception that they are safer than street drugs. They are not. When a person takes a prescription medication in a larger dose or more often than intended or for a condition they do not have, it affects the same areas of the brain as illicit drugs and poses the same risk of addiction."; and
5) Treatment should put addicts in their place.
"Even though the leading authorities on addiction agree that addiction is a chronic disease similar to heart disease, diabetes and cancer, addicts are still treated as second-class citizens. Many treatment centers believe confrontational, shame-based methods are necessary to motivate addicts. Quite the contrary. In addition to contributing to the stigma of addiction and deterring people from seeking treatment, research shows that shame is a strong predictor of relapse."
Comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, 05/15/2013. www.alcoholdrugsos.com