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Substance Abuse Myths and Facts

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Everyone has an opinion about substance abuse, whether it is drug addiction or alcoholism. Unless an individual has lived through a substance abuse problem, it is hard to understand the scope and damaging effects that addiction can cause. Unfortunately, misinformed people tend to fill that knowledge void with untruth, rumor, and conjecture. We have outlined of the most common myths about substance abuse, along with the real facts everyone should know.

Myth: Substance abuse and addiction are actually the same thing.

Fact: Though the terms “abuse” and “addiction” are often considered synonymous, they are not the same thing.

Substance abuse generally refers to the use of drugs or alcohol in unhealthy or even dangerous ways. Substance use disorder (SUD) is the diagnosis given to people who continually struggle with substance use, or who have developed a dependence on the substance. An individual who has a drug addiction has developed a physical, chemical and/or a psychological dependence on drugs or alcohol.

People who engage in substance abuse without an active addiction are more likely to still experience the novel euphoric or depressive effects of the substance. Once addiction sets in, the individual develops a tolerance to the drug and will require more and more of the substance to achieve that original high, if it can be recreated at all.

Myth: People who can’t stop using drugs are weak or immoral.

Fact: People who become dependent or drugs or alcohol are victims of a real illness.

Most people who have become addicted to a drug or alcohol would quit if they could. Many people who misuse substances also suffer from a mental health condition, and may first seek substances as a way to self-medicate. Further, science has proven that addiction disorders do have a genetic link that may run in families.1

“One of the most important things that I’ve learned in all of this,” writes Kelly K. for Heroes In Recovery,“came from people who have said, ‘You did something bad, yet you’re not a bad person. You deserve life, you deserve to have good things. You don’t have to punish yourself for the rest of your life. You don’t have to be your addiction or your past.’ You’re not defined by your past. You’re defined by your present, your future, and what you choose to do with it.”

Myth: People can quit using drugs any time they want.

Fact:When substance abuse turns into drug addiction, it takes a powerful hold over both mind and body. This is because chronic substance use alters brain response.

While initial substance use is usually voluntary, most substances actually rewire the brain, flooding dopamine receptors, leading to feelings of short-lived pleasure that later give way to anxious cravings. Even the strongest-willed individuals have difficulty quitting drugs on their own. A quality drug rehab program and addiction counselors can help break this cycle.2

Myth: Substance abuse is only a problem in a lower income or socio-economic layers of society.

Fact: Substance abuse impacts every layer of society.

While certain genders, ages or socio-economic groups may experience higher levels of substance abuse than others, make no mistake: substance abuse and addiction are societal issue. From urban centers to the suburbs to rural America, no one is exempt from the impact of substance abuse. Our elderly, our children — anyone who fills a prescription — the potential for abuse exists.

Michael’s House is a residential drug rehab facility that helps individuals who have become entangled in substance abuse or addiction get their lives straightened out. Our innovative alcohol and drug rehab programs designed to enrich the mind and spirit of the individual help change lives for the better. Contact us at 760.548.4032 to learn more.


1 NIDA. Genetics and Epigenetics of Addiction. 1 Feb 2016.

2 NIDA. Media Guide. 1 Oct 2016.