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Two Prevalent Myths of Addiction Debunked

There are a few widely-believed myths about addiction that have hung on tenaciously in the popular imagination, despite the immense amount of good information that is now available out there for anyone who is searching for knowledge. These myths deserve to be debunked because as long as family members or friends of addicts, or even addicts themselves, hold on to these phony ideas about substance abuse, those in need of guidance will continue to be steered in the wrong direction.

Myth 1: When an addict relapses, they will have to start all over again.

Chronic relapse is a reality, but it is recoverable. It is unfortunate when someone in recovery slips back into drugs and alcohol, and a relapse can be quite discouraging to those who have struggled so hard to vanquish their problem. But the experiences that addicts gain when they are able to stay clean for at least a little while can be tremendously valuable, and this is why relapse does not send a recovering substance abuser back to square one. The road from casual use to addiction is long and winding, with many forks, twists, and turns, but so is the path to sobriety, and it can be very difficult to travel from one end of that path to the other without taking the occasional unintentional detour. But once you are able to find your way back to the right trail, you will still be closer to your final destination than you were when you first started your journey.

Relapse can actually help an addict defeat their problem in the long run because the kind of self-analysis that relapse often stimulates can help an alcoholic or drug abuser gain deeper insight into their own particular triggers and vulnerabilities. Relapse is a learning experience, and as long as an addict does not get discouraged and give up, there is no reason why a temporary fall from grace should undermine a determined effort to change.

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Myth 2: Addicts cannot be forced to accept help. They must enter treatment all on their own.

At first glance, this appears to be common sense. After all, the whole point of an intervention is to get the addict to admit they have a problem and agree to seek help on their own initiative. But surprisingly, studies have shown that people who get sent to treatment as a result of a court order, or who are committed to a rehab facility in some other way that is not entirely voluntary are able to beat their addictions just as frequently as those who enter treatment of their own free will. Most likely, this is because the professionals who staff treatment facilities are very experienced and very good at what they do, and they often know the right approach to take to get through to someone who previously had been unwilling or unable to admit their problem.

If you are planning on organizing an intervention for a loved one, your goal should be to convince that person to at least give treatment a try, even if he or she is not yet ready to admit that things are completely out of control. If the addict in question does agree to enter rehab, in some instances, he or she may only be doing it to humor you and the rest of the family. But if you can just get him or her there, by hook or by crook, the chances of something good happening are probably better than you think.

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