5 common myths about addiction

5 common myths about addiction: what you need to know

Former Manchester United, Everton and England player Wayne Rooney hit the headlines last month (February 2022) after lifting the lid on his previous battles with alcohol.

Ahead of a documentary set to air on Amazon Prime, Rooney opened up to interviewers about the pressure of playing football on the world stage, revealing that he would often lock himself away ‘for days’ during prolonged periods of binge-drinking.

While it’s not uncommon for celebrities to discuss their battles with addiction, the revelations have come as a shock to fans, many of whom had viewed Rooney as having the ‘perfect’ life.

However, regardless of a person’s circumstances, it’s important to recognise that anyone can be vulnerable to addiction.

In this article, we look at some of the most common myths surrounding addiction and recovery.

What you need to know about addiction

There are many common misconceptions surrounding people living with drug and/or alcohol addiction.

As a leading provider of drug and alcohol testing services, AlphaBiolabs works closely with local authorities, social workers, and family law professionals who encounter people struggling with substance misuse every day.  

One of the most important things to remember is that no two cases are the same, with addiction impacting people from all walks of life.

Here, we break down five of the most common myths surrounding addiction:

Myth 1: Only certain types of people can be addicts

It’s a common myth that addiction only impacts individuals from certain backgrounds.

However, this is untrue. It’s important to understand that no-one is immune from addiction, regardless of their background or profession.   

In fact, recent figures show that there has been a rise in middle-class or ‘lifestyle’ drug users in the UK who are taking class A drugs (such as cocaine) recreationally.

Myth 2: Having a good job and a family means you can’t experience addiction  

Most people probably have a stereotypical image in their mind about what an addict looks like, whether it’s someone sleeping rough or a person who is visibly struggling to cope.

But it’s a fact that many people fighting addiction have loving families and successful careers.

A person with a drug and/or alcohol problem who can still carry out normal day-to-day tasks is sometimes known as a functioning addict.

This means that their addiction can be easily hidden from family and friends, making it even harder for them to ask for help if they need it.

A person’s ability to carry on as normal while abusing drink or drugs might also prevent them from recognising that they have a problem.

Myth 3: Addiction is a choice – they could stop at any time  

Addiction doesn’t always happen because a person has made bad choices.

In fact, a person’s dependency on drugs or alcohol can come down to how their brain reacts to continued use of certain substances.

The feeling of euphoria that a person experiences when consuming drugs or alcohol can be attributed to dopamine – a neurotransmitter released by the brain when it is expecting a reward. 

For some people, the more they indulge in drugs or alcohol, the more their brain comes to expect this feeling of euphoria. This means the urge to drink or take drugs can increase. 

In other words, your brain chemistry plays a big role in whether you will become addicted, making recovery more difficult for some people than others.  

Myth 4: Once an addict, always an addict

While many people can find it difficult to stop drinking or taking drugs, recovery from addiction is possible.

With the right support and treatment, people suffering with addiction can make a full recovery and go on to lead healthy, happy lives.

The most effective treatment methods are designed to help people who have relapsed or are at risk of using drugs or alcohol again in the future.

Like any medical condition, the treatment phase is a process, so making sure the individual has the right support is crucial. 

Myth 5: Alcohol addiction isn’t as bad as drug addiction

Drinking alcohol is much more widely accepted in our society than taking drugs, meaning it can sometimes be difficult to spot when someone has a problem.

Who hasn’t been to a social occasion where drinking is encouraged or even expected, whether at a work event or out with friends?

Because of the role that alcohol plays in social occasions and holidays, alcohol addiction can be one of the toughest addictions to break.

Whether you’re concerned about a friend or family member’s drinking, or are worried you might be drinking to excess, there are several warning signs that could indicate a problem with alcohol dependency.   

These include drinking in risky situations (such as when you’re about to drive a car), drinking at all times of the day, or continuing to drink despite the impact on health and relationships.

Spotting these signs early can make a big difference when it comes to treatment and recovery.

Drug and alcohol testing services from AlphaBiolabs

Whether you’re an employer looking to enhance your drug and alcohol policy, or a family law professional seeking court-approved testing services, AlphaBiolabs can help.

Our UKAS-accredited laboratory provides a range of drug and alcohol testing services for the workplace and the legal profession, including blood, hair, nail, breath, and oral fluid tests.

For more information or to speak to our friendly and knowledgeable Customer Services team, call 0333 600 1300 or email info@alphabiolabs.com.