In mid-October speaker, counselor and author David Bedrick wrote an article for the Huffington Post on the myths about addiction. His comments are insightful and relevant to those of battling addiction or with loved ones who are struggling.
Bedrick starts with a call to face our collective denials about addiction and face our culture of addiction. We need to remember that addicts aren’t just creepy-looking guys shooting up in dark hallways, but friends and family who use and abuse alcohol or drugs. Some of those drugs were prescribed to them by their family doctors. We need to look too at our own addictive tendencies. We joke about how we are “addicted to chocolate” or coffee, but how do we really use food, tobacco, the Internet or television? While perhaps not addictive in the “classic” sense, do we use substances or behavior to excess or in ways that get in the way of our relationships?
Here are two important myths to consider:
Myth #1 – Addicts fail to abstain from drugs because they don’t work their program.
Bedrick states that many fail because the treatment programs they are using do not work. These programs have high relapse rates and do not treat the underlying cause of the addiction. The do not find out why the addict started abusing in the first place.
Myth #2 – Improving addiction treatment means waging a more effective war on drug use.
The reason people are using is more powerful than their reasons to abstain. They must replace the drugs with something just as good as the drugs are to them at this time. Addicts are people in pain that have suffered something they cannot handle on their own. They use to make the pain stop. That archaic pain must be worked through and a different life lived in order for the addict to remain drug free.
“People use substances for hundreds of different individual, almost idiosyncratic, reasons. What we need to do is caringly and carefully investigate people’s actual experiences using their substance of choice in a way that assumes there are real needs and intelligence built into the person’s compulsion to use the substance.”