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01. Addiction

"Substance abuse is a pattern of compulsive substance use marked by recurrent significant social, occupational, legal, or interpersonal adverse consequences, such as repeated absences from work or school, arrests, and marital difficulties.


Addiction is a state of psychological or physical dependence (or both) on the use of alcohol or other drugs. The term is often used as an equivalent term for substance dependence and sometimes applied to behavioral disorders, such as sexual, internet, and gambling addictions."


- American Psychological Association

Note: The source for these myths is a list created by the American Addiction Centers. I have attempted to address each myth myself, however, along with borrowing some information from the original list.

1. Addiction only affects weak people

First, let us address the idea that someone "can't be addicted" to thing x, y, or z.


A person can be addicted to anything that drives dopamine production in their brain: Food, sex, drugs, alcohol, videogames. Doesn't matter. Addiction is defined by the National Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA) as, "a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences. It is considered a brain disorder, because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control. Those changes may last a long time after a person has stopped taking drugs."

Next, allow me to address the idea that addiction only affects the weak: Everyone is weak. What I mean by that is that there is not a single person alive today who hasn't had a moment of weakness.


"I hope that all of us, or none of us are judged by the actions of our weakest moments but rather by the strength we show when, or if, we are given a second chance." - Ted Lasso

In the same way, being able to quit being addicted to something requires more than sheer willpower: Addiction is a psychological and/or physiological dependence on something. Being able to quit without help is seldom possible.

On the science and study of addiction, Dr. Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that for "much of the past century, scientists studying drugs and drug use labored in the shadows of powerful myths and misconceptions about the nature of addiction. When scientists began to study addictive behavior in the 1930s, people with an addiction were thought to be morally flawed and lacking in willpower. Those views shaped society’s responses to drug use, treating it as a moral failing rather than a health problem, which led to an emphasis on punishment rather than prevention and treatment."

Addiction needs to be treated as a disease, rather than some kind of matter of willpower, or moral failing.

Sad Girl in the Window

2. Quitting "cold turkey" is the best way

Quitting "cold turkey" means that you just STOP. You stop doing the addictive behavior suddenly and do not engage in it again. Setting aside the fact that physical/chemical dependence on substances is a thing, this kind of thinking is also unrealistic: If someone could truly quit by this method, then they wouldn't truly be considered an addict to begin with.

In terms of hard drugs, alcohol, and any other chemical substance, engaging in cold turkey quitting can be dangerous due to withdrawal symptoms that are produced by the body. The best thing to do in instances like this is to seek the help of a qualified team at a rehabilitation facility. A rehabilitation facility can help you remain safe during the detox process.

Image by Will Porada

3. Wait until you hit "rock bottom" before seeking treatment

I understand that what I'm about to write here is simply my opinion, however, this kind of thinking can be dangerous. "Rock bottom" can be a lot of things to a lot of different people. For some people, rock bottom may end up being buried six feet under the ground, inside of a wooden box; while for others it may mean ending up in prison. Or worse, ending up dead in the streets because of an overdose.

When it comes to addiction: getting help early is better than getting help late. And getting help late is still better than getting help too late.

Image by Mishal Ibrahim

4. Relapsing is a sign that you should just give up

Refer back to myth number 1: A moment of weakness does not mean that you are a weak person.


A relapse, by its very definition, means that progress was being made, but some kind of setback occurred during the progress of the management of the condition.


That's all that it means.


Remember, an addiction (substance abuse disorder) of any kind is something that has to be managed throughout one's life. Moments of weakness do not define us; they only act as speedbumps on an otherwise grand journey we call life.

Remember that there is help available: But help can only be provided to those who seek it out. From support groups to outpatient treatments, if you are addicted to something, you can manage the disorder!

Running Tracks

5. There is no "cure" for addiction, so why bother?

Addiction doesn't just affect the individual who is addicted, it also affects those around them: family, friends, loved ones, spouses, and the like. Actions and words have considerable consequences, and as such, actions taken and things said under the influence can cause harm, hurt people, and even cause loss of income or freedom.

Remember that you are not alone in the journey, and that you have a responsibility to not only yourself, but also to those around you who have a vested interest in your wellbeing.

It is also important to remember that according to the Indian Health Service, "SUD [substance use disorder] is different in every person, where some struggle for years and others manage to respond to treatment quickly. The ultimate goal is that long-term recovery will allow people to lead normal and productive lives."

Image by Colin Davis
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