Drug addiction is a serious condition that affects millions of people in the United States each year. SAMHSA’s 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that 22.2 million Americans aged 12 and over had struggled with some type of substance abuse or dependence in the previous year. But while many people deal with drug addiction, not very many understand exactly what it is and what happens to those who struggle with it. There are many common misconceptions about drug addiction, but understanding the truth behind three main myths about this disease can help us understand what drug addiction is really like.

Myth #1: Drug Addiction Is a Choice

A lot of people believe that drug addiction occurs because a person allows it to happen. But as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains, while the person may have made an initial decision to use the drug, addiction causes distinct changes in the brain that affect the person’s self-control and ability to stop himself from giving into strong desires to use the drug. The NIDA also defines addiction as “a chronic, often relapsing brain disease” that makes a person seek out and use drugs in spite of the drug’s negative effects. Since addiction is a disease, it is difficult to manage alone. Instead, it is best managed with the support of licensed healthcare professionals.

Myth #2: Only People with No Willpower Struggle with Drug Addiction

Another common misconception about drug addiction is that it is a sign of weakness and lack of willpower. However, in reality, many different factors come into play when a person develops an addiction. The Mayo Clinic lists the following common factors that make a person more likely to develop a drug addiction:

  • Gender – Men are 50% more likely to struggle with drug abuse and addiction.
  • Other psychological conditions – A person who is struggling with another psychological condition such as anxiety or depression may use drugs as a form of self-medication.
  • Family history of addiction – Having one or more relatives that has an addiction makes a person more likely to also develop one.
  • Family problems – Tensions between parents and children, spouses, and other loved ones can create stress in a person’s life that can lead to drug use, which in turn can lead to addiction.
  • Pressure from friends – Peer pressure can be a powerful influence on people, especially teenagers and young adults, to start using drugs.
  • Addictive potential – Drugs like heroin and cocaine are extremely addictive, so using them can make a person develop an addiction faster.

Anyone can develop an addiction and individuals with several risk factors should be especially careful when using any type of drug or alcohol.

Myth #3: Drug Addiction Is a Hopeless Condition

Perhaps the most common myth about drug addiction is that it cannot be treated or cured. It is true that addiction is a chronic disease that will stay with a person his entire life, but like other chronic diseases, addiction can be effectively managed with proper care, attention and professional help. The only hopeless addiction cases are those who deny or avoid the issue altogether. Asking for help is the first step to recovering from a condition that is completely treatable.

Learn More Truths About Drug Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction and feeling hopeless, please give our toll-free helpline a call right now. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to talk more with you about the truth about drug addiction. They can also help you find a quality treatment center that will help you learn how to manage your addiction and regain control of your life.