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Myths About Drug Abuse And Addiction

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

March 26, 2019

Many myths exist about addiction and the causes and treatments of it. Knowing the facts about addiction can help keep you and your loved ones safe.

MYTH: Addicts can only be helped when they want and seek help themselves

FACT: Many addicts resist treatment and people believe that any coercion into treatment suggests that the addict has no intention of becoming recovered. While it makes sense to believe that people should want help in order to remain successful, being an addict means that your normal thought processes and brain functions aren’t the same as that of a sober individual. After being pushed toward treatment, the fog begins to clear and studies show that addicts often see that the push they received was a push in the right direction. In fact, those pressured into recovery have done decidedly better than those who eventually came to the decision to seek help themselves.

Myth: Addiction is completely voluntary

MYTH: Addiction is completely voluntary

FACT: The behaviors that trigger addiction and lead to the spiral of continued bad behaviors are voluntary; addiction, itself, is not voluntary and can quickly emerge even after just a few uses of addictive substances. Once the brain is altered by its aggressor, physical addiction sets in, as well as other factors that contribute to perpetuated use. While actions are voluntary, the brain of an addict is increasingly unclear and actions—such as choosing to use again—are often forgotten or done somewhat automatically, without free and uncompromised thought.

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MYTH: Users can’t be addicted to marijuana

FACT: Marijuana is an addictive drug. Aside from the potential for an oral fixation, marijuana—in substance—is one that many become addicted to. While the odds of becoming addicted to marijuana fluctuate from user to user, it is known that 1 in 11 users become addicts.

MYTH: If a doctor prescribed it, it can’t be addictive

FACT: Especially in recent years, and with full knowledge of the risks and effects, doctors have prescribed and over prescribed dangerous medications. These are legal drugs that can contribute to addiction, be the jump-off point for addiction, and can lead to overdose and death. Drugs like morphine are in many cases over prescribed, leading to an opioid addiction that commonly translates into heroin (an opiate) use for maintenance and avoidance of withdrawal.

Myth: You can't become addicted if a doctor prescribed it

MYTH: If it’s natural, it is safe

FACT: Everything came from something. Even synthetically reproduced drugs that are now created in labs are the chemical copies of drugs that occur or occurred in nature. Just as heroin derives from the opium poppy plant, marijuana or psilocybin mushrooms growing out of the ground doesn’t imply that either is safe to use. “Natural” drugs can be addictive and destructive to a user’s mind, body, and life. Mushrooms are often mistaken with other varieties which are lethal, but even the “magic” psilocybin mushroom can cause lasting psychosis and trauma after even a single use.

Sort out the facts

If you are trying to sort out the facts and seek professional help, contact us at We can answer any of your questions and guide you toward the treatment you seek.

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