The root word addict comes from the Latin word addictus, which means “to devote, sacrifice, sell out, betray or abandon.” Addiction perfectly sums up these terms while an addict is actively using or performing certain behaviors. An addict sacrifices all they have and sells oneself out while betraying others in order to use. Addiction plagues many individual households for years. While some silently bear the brunt, others seek recovery in order to live a more fulfilling life. We, at Crossroad Wellness understand the implications of the dark shadow that looms over an addict’s life and through an integrational process focused on personal growth and sustenance promote recovery.

Myths about addiction:

Myth: Using drugs or alcohol is a choice, so if someone gets addicted, it’s their fault.

Reality: No one would choose to get addiction, any more than they’d choose to get cancer. Addiction is a consequence of many contributing factors, including genetics, upbringing, trauma and other influences. People with addiction are usually living pretty miserable lives and wouldn’t choose to live that way if given the chance.

Myth: If someone just uses willpower, they should be able to stop.

Reality: For people who are vulnerable to addiction, substance use can lead to profound changes in the brain. These changes hijack the natural “reward pathway” of the brain. In nature, rewards usually only come with effort and after a delay. But addictive substances shortcut this process and flood the brain with chemicals that signal pleasure. When the disease takes hold, these changes in the brain erode a person’s self-control and ability to make good decisions, while sending highly intense impulses to take drugs. These are the same circuits linked to survival, driving powerful urges no different from those driving the need to eat or drink water. These overwhelming impulses help explain the compulsive and often baffling behavior around addiction. People will keep using it even when terrible things happen to them.

Myth: Addiction mostly affects certain types of people.

Reality: This disease does not discriminate. Addiction can affect anyone. No matter your age or income, ethnicity or religion, family or profession. Nationally, about one in eight people ages 12 and up are impacted.

Myth: Addiction is treated behaviorally so it must be a behavioral problem, not a disease.

Reality: Human behavior begins in the brain. Advanced brain studies show that different types of treatments, such as psychotherapy and medication, can change brain function. This is true for depression and other illnesses, including addiction. Sometimes behavioral treatments, like counseling, are enough. Sometimes medication may be required as well. But the fact that behavioral treatments can be effective does not mean addiction isn’t a real illness.

Myth: Prescription drugs are not addictive like street drugs because they come from a doctor.

Reality: Addiction to prescription medications, including painkillers, sedatives and stimulants, is a serious and growing problem among all age groups. These drugs can be highly addictive and have serious harmful effects. Even if these drugs are prescribed by your physician, you may be at risk.

Myth: If someone relapses, they’re a lost cause.

Reality: Try not to be too discouraged by a relapse, which is a recurrence of symptoms. Addiction is a chronic illness very similar to type II diabetes or hypertension, meaning it requires lifelong management. Relapse is no more likely with addiction than it is for these other chronic illnesses. Getting well involves changing deeply embedded behaviors. This takes time and effort and sometimes results in setbacks. This doesn’t mean previous treatments failed, because the person with the disease still made progress overall in getting well. A recurrence may be a sign that the treatment approach or other supports need to change, or that other treatment methods are needed. There is hope. Keep in mind that most people with addiction who suffer a recurrence will return to recovery.

Myth: People with addiction are bad and need to be punished.

Reality: Sometimes, after prolonged substance use, people with addiction do horrible things. These bad acts are often impossible to understand. They’re due to profound changes in the brain that compel them to lie, cheat, steal or worse in order to keep using. While this behavior can’t be condoned, it’s important to understand they do it because they are deeply sick and need help. Sick people need treatment, not punishment, to get well.