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4 myths about drug addiction and recovery

Myth 1: Drug addiction is voluntary.

This is definitely false. Sometimes a drug addiction evolves from prescription medication use. Let's say someone is in a car accident and is medically prescribed Vicodin to deal with acute post-collision injuries and pain. Continual use, without intention, could transform into something bigger: a dependency. This is how drug addiction frequently begins. What was once a temporary prescription becomes essential to the user.

Even if a person is a sporadic drug user, drug dependency is not a choice. As time passes and habits continue, recreational use can turn a controlled drug user into a compulsive, involuntary addict.

Sure, a person may start out as an occasional drug user, and that is a voluntary decision. But with time, prolonged use of a drug can alter the body and brain chemistry. Whether the transformation of the brain is subtle or abrupt, it can result in uncontrollable and habitual drug use. In such cases, the person no longer has a choice; an infrequent pastime converts into a problem.

Myth 2: Addicts are "bad" people.

Addiction does not discriminate. Addicts are not bad people. Many times, addicts are remarkable individuals. The problem is that they are people suffering from a serious illness. Sometimes the stress of life happenings exacerbates the problem, too. A user could be a soldier, mother, lawyer, or accountant - anyone in the community. It is not true that addicts come from a particular demographic or race. All walks of life suffer from chemical dependency. The good news is that recovery does not discriminate, either. Recovery is possible for all types of addicts. It is important to never give up hope.

Myth 3: Addicts must desire drug treatment for it to be effective.

For addicts, the idea of treatment can sound alarming or frightening. The truth is there are two main reasons people seek drug treatment. One is when loved ones urge a user to get help. The other common reason for treatment is when a court orders rehabilitative services for the addict, pursuant to criminal charges. Studies suggest that those who involuntarily enter drug programs to confront and overcome addiction do comparatively well in treatment compared to those who seek help on their own.

Myth 4: Treatment is a one-time deal.

It's important to remember that drug addiction - or any addiction - can be an unremitting disorder. There may be people who can quit "cold turkey" or those who can recover after just one treatment program. However, that is the minority of cases. Most drug addicts require intensive, long-term help. More often than not, a user needs repeated therapy to regain stability and health.

Dependency and legal issues

Unfortunately, sometimes drug abuse becomes so egregious that it lands one in court. Perhaps the initial use of a Vicodin or some other drug was within the preview of the law. As mentioned, the classic example is a medically prescribed drug after a bad injury or accident. Yet, as a person becomes a regular user and the drug is no longer necessary from a medical perspective, the criminal justice system may qualify the use or possession of the drug as illegal.

If you are facing criminal charges as a result of your dependency issues, talk to a local attorney about treatment programs that might be facilitated through the court system. A legal professional can help you address the pending charges and pursue a more agreeable outcome in your case. A legal advocate can also work with the court to help address your disease in this process.

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