8 Most Popular Myths About Addiction by Substance Use Therapist

  • ​Uncover the true definition of addiction and how it impacts emotional well-being
  • ​​Discover the connection between trauma and addiction, and how common experiences shape our relationship with substances
  • ​​Debunk 8 widespread misconceptions about addiction, challenging societal beliefs and fostering empathy
  • ​​Learn why waiting to hit rock bottom before seeking help is a dangerous myth
  • ​​Find out why willpower alone isn't enough to overcome addiction and what other tools are necessary for success
  • ​​Understand that recovery is possible and explore the different paths towards a healthier, addiction-free life
  • ​​Gain insight into tailored treatment options, from abstinence to harm-reduction strategies
  • ​​Join us in creating a more compassionate and supportive environment for those struggling with addiction and their loved ones
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In this blog post, we delve into the complexities of addiction, exploring its definition and debunking eight common misconceptions held by society. Our aim is to increase understanding and empathy towards those who are struggling with addiction and their loved ones.

What is addiction?

Addiction can be defined as the use of objects, substances, or relationships to change how we feel emotionally. It often arises as a response to pain, trauma, or disconnection. People develop addictions as a coping mechanism for dealing with difficult experiences, emotional pain, or feelings of emptiness and disconnection from themselves or others. It is important to understand that addiction is neither a disease nor a choice.

The reality of addiction

Through extensive surveys of individuals struggling with addiction, several common factors have emerged. Many of these individuals have experienced loss, parental divorce, frequent moves during childhood, exposure to alcohol consumption in their family, domestic violence, abusive relationships, and sexual assault or abuse. Recognizing that trauma can contribute to addiction is essential for understanding why people may develop unhealthy relationships with substances.

8 Common Misconceptions about Addiction

  • All problem drinkers have the same symptoms and background: The reality is that people struggling with addiction come from various backgrounds and have unique situations. What unites them is their recognition of the problem and desire to change.
  • ​​You must hit rock bottom before seeking help: Waiting until things get worse can be dangerous or even life-threatening. Seeking help as early as possible increases the chances of successfully overcoming addiction.
  • ​​Addiction is a choice and can be stopped by willpower alone: Addiction is often the result of difficult life circumstances and a lack of healthy coping mechanisms. Willpower is vulnerable to external factors, and relying solely on it fails to address the underlying causes of addiction.
  • ​​Relapse is a sign of failure or lack of willpower: Relapse or slips during recovery are common and indicate a need for improvement in healthy coping mechanisms rather than failure. Learning from these experiences is crucial for ongoing recovery.
  • ​​If someone wants to stop using, they can do it on their own without professional help: While it may be possible to stop using substances independently, seeking professional help greatly increases the chances of success.
  • ​​Addiction is a moral failing or a sign of a weak character: Addiction is a complex issue involving genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Perpetuating this myth stigmatises those struggling with addiction, creating barriers to seeking help and support.
  • ​​Once you're addicted, you'll always be addicted: Recovery is possible, and many people who have faced addiction are now living healthy, fulfilling lives. Recovery is an ongoing process, requiring continuous effort and support.
  • ​​Abstinence is the only solution to addiction: While abstinence may be the best choice for some, it's not the only path to recovery. Treatment and support options can be tailored to the individual's unique needs and goals, including harm reduction strategies, therapy, support groups, and medication-assisted treatment.

By challenging these misconceptions and increasing awareness about addiction, we can create a more compassionate and supportive environment for those struggling with addiction and their loved ones. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, remember that there is hope and help available. Reach out to professionals or support networks to begin the journey towards recovery.

TRANSCRIPT OF PODCAST

In this episode of the podcast, we're going to talk about what addiction is, and we're going to go over eight Common Misconceptions Held By Society About Addiction. So firstly, what is addiction? So in my definition is when you use objects, substances and relationships to change how you feel emotionally. So is when you use objects, substances or relationships to change how you feel emotionally. I'd also say it is a response to pain and trauma or being disconnected and that people develop addictions as a way to cope with difficult experiences and the emotional pain or a sense of emptiness or lack to try and feel that sense of lack and disconnection even from themselves or from other people. So I don't think addiction is is I don't think it's a disease and I don't think it's a choice. You know, I've surveyed hundreds of clients to understand their realities on a deeper level and have all of the respondents who were normal people just like you with a job and a family, and they were high functioning and they all had a problem with alcohol and drinking. Out of all of those clients, common things stood out and some of those key commonalities. Over 50% of the people who I've spoken to and assessed had lost some key person like me with mum, for example, and 1 in 2 of them, their parents got divorced in childhood. 1 in 2 of them moved around a lot as a kid. 1 in 4. Their parents used to drink modelling to them their current drinking behaviour. 1 in 4 grew up in a home where domestic violence and abuse was present. 1 in 4 had a partner in the past who drank a lot, and their drinking escalated since being with that partner. 1 in 4 had been cheated on in the past. And lastly, 1 in 6 had experienced sexual assault or abuse I've experienced. Four out of these eight, you know, like 50% of them are experienced loss. I experienced divorce of my parents when I was a kid and the loss of my mom when I was a kid. I moved around a lot as a kid. My mom obviously drank, so I experienced a lot of these myself. A lot of the clients I work with have a lot of these ticked as well. Generally, like 20 to 80% of them ticked and that's completely normal. But it's important to recognise that trauma can be a contributing factor to our drinking. And one of the reasons that we may drink or use drugs too much. You can go and take our online self-assessment only takes about four minutes and it goes through four key areas of your life and trauma is one of them and it will score you on how bad each of these areas are and how they're contributing to your drinking. So if you want to find more about that test, you can go to inside addiction.co.uk forward slash. That's inside addiction.co.uk/y and you'll be able to take the test and find out some deep understanding of why you drink and use drugs. So now let's go over eight common misconceptions held by society about addiction. So firstly, is that all problem drinkers experience the same symptoms and have the same background. Now this just simply isn't true. In fact, most people struggling with drinking just like you and me, with jobs and families. You know, I've worked with hundreds of clients from Fortune 500 CEOs to single mothers on benefits, and it's clear that everyone's situation is unique. But one common thread is that they all recognise they've got a problem with drinking and they want to make a change. And that one piece is what unites us all. Number two is that you have to hit rock bottom before seeking help. So in fact, that's just not true. You know, waiting until things get so bad and even worse than they currently are can be dangerous and even life threatening. So it's important to seek help as early as possible because that can greatly increase your chances of success in overcoming your addiction. And if you're listening to this podcast, you know that is a good indication it's time to actually get help, you know, and you can reach out and talk to me or one of our team and have a call and talk through your situation. It's not a problem at all. Number three is the addiction is a choice and can be easily stopped by willpower alone, as we've been over. Addiction is not a choice, and it's often the result of difficult life circumstances and a lack of knowledge about healthy coping mechanisms. You know, our surroundings and our culture play a significant role in influencing our relationship with alcohol. And this dependence on willpower can be both draining and unsustainable over time. You know, willpower is vulnerable to external factors such as stress and emotions, which can actually negatively affect your decision making abilities. And lastly, willpower on its own fails to address the underlying causes and triggers that may be driving problematic drinking behaviour. Number four is that relapse is a sign of failure or a lack of willpower. Now it's actually common to experience relapse or slips during recovery. And they're not a sign of failure, but rather a sign of your lack of proficiency in healthy coping mechanisms. Now, I've personally experienced several relapses and slips in my first year of recovery, but I always got back up and I learned my lesson and I kept going. And I always recognised how I could have, you know, used the tools that I was implementing better and that I was gaining through therapy and I needed to apply them even more effectively in the future, which I did over and over again. And that ensured that I didn't get caught out by the same situations again. And each relapse was for a different reason, you know, not because of the same reason as before or the same left field moment. Number five is if someone wants to stop using, they can do it on their own without professional help or treatment. Well, it may be possible to stop drinking on your own. Seeking professional help will greatly increase the chances of success. Just like how it's possible to learn to drive on your own, it's much safer and more effective to have an expert show you the ropes. Individual counselling has been shown to be effective in reducing alcohol consumption and problem drinking, and this was actually demonstrated in a systematic review and meta analysis of 40 randomised controlled studies. And it's best to actually have the guidance, you know, from someone who's been down the same path and going at it alone may result in bumps in the road that cause you to quit or lose motivation. And slowly that motivation dwindles over time and you start to wonder, Can I really do it kind of really get free and break free from those chains of addiction? Number six. People who drink uncontrollably are selfish and don't care about others. Now people struggling with drinking may appear to be selfish and uncaring towards others, but this is not an accurate reflection of their true intentions. Drinking is a result of difficulty managing emotions and action that is causing harm to oneself or others. And often those with a drinking problem don't actively seek to harm others, but rather they're just disconnected from that guilt and consequences of their actions. However, this emotional disconnection catches up with them and eventually they ultimately fear the fact that they'll hurt themselves or other people. Number seven is if I try and fail, it means I'll be worse off. Now, the truth is that most of us stumble along the path to sobriety. It's actually far more normal than you think. And if you think how many times the people we glorify as huge successes have failed along the way, whether that's Oprah or Elon Musk or Steve Jobs, it's that these points, these stumbles that we learn our deepest lessons and that we learn what is working and what isn't, that we learn about ourselves. The only thing to be scared of is not trying in the first place and not persevering and keep going. You know, to grow, we must dare to fail. And when we fail, we must look back at where we have come from. And remember we are that much further ahead than when we started. And like we're speaking about in these episodes, the drinker's continuum we recognise and we're moving along that continuum, which is really important. Number eight. And the final one is, what if I succeed? I've been there. And for me, there are so many years where I would wonder who will I be without drugs or alcohol? I would wonder about birthday parties and Christmases and weddings and think, how am I going to get through those without relying on the crutch of alcohol? And that's just a really scary prospect. But more and more people in our culture are waking up to this reality that drinking is not sophisticated or adult, and it's actually the opposite. Makes us look like shit and kills our confidence and sucks our time and money and energy and it ruins our health and works against every single goal we set for ourselves. But when we realise that sobriety, sobriety isn't something that we have to do, but something that we get to do. Then we're on the path to discovering real self-confidence, which will aid us in creating happiness, which will actually support those positive coping mechanisms we're building. And just think of this. Imagine having more energy, more time, more money, better looks, more self-confidence. A life that doesn't have to revolve around the bar scene and one that's founded on authentic connection. So I really would urge you to not fear the upsides and to really go for it. And if you're listening to this podcast, then it's definitely a sign that you should take some action and take the leap. And despite these myths, is to actually push forward and get the help you need.

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