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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Williams

“Can’t you just stop?”: Understanding Addiction



 

Many assume that reducing alcohol or drug use is simply a matter of willpower and that all a person needs to do is just stop. This perspective can limit the motivation of the person trying to make changes in their using habits. Since often times, the sober curious person will relapse into old habits and then experience guilt or shame because they are not strong enough to stop.


Common misconceptions about addiction are:


· Stopping is a matter of willpower

· People choose to stay addicted and relapse

· Weak people struggle with addiction

· Addiction only affects certain groups and populations of people

· Functioning and stable people cannot develop harmful using patterns

· Rehab fixes everything

· You have to hit rock-bottom, end up in jail or be hospitalized to decide to change habits

· Bad people drink or use drugs


These myths can prevent someone from seeking help because the misconception is that the person is deemed weak, powerless and unfit to participate as a member in society. Instead of believing that there is hope, sober curious individuals will stay stuck in harmful patterns.


Thankfully, there has been an increase in the awareness of the truth behind addiction. Professionals are being taught harm-reduction techniques to help individuals achieve recovery goals.


Facts about addiction:


· Using habits can affect the reward system part of the brain, which alters the ability to practice discipline and willpower

· Addiction is not a choice, many factors contribute to developing a habit, such as; environmental, psychological and physical factors, family history, and early childhood experiences

· A struggle with addiction is not a sign of weakness but a consequence of various factors

· Addiction does not discriminate

· Anyone can function and still struggle

· Treatment can help with learning new ways to cope but sometimes it takes time to discover what will be the most helpful

· Anytime is the right time to make changes to harmful habits

· Using is not a reflection of poor character, it is a disease, bad people don’t get sick


Seeking support for yourself or a loved one is the first step toward making meaningful change. Regardless of wanting to stop completely or explore how habits affect life, therapy is a great place to start that journey. A licensed therapist can help process all the factors that influence using patterns and help create a plan for success.



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