Common Myths

Myths About Addiction*

* Adapted from Myths of Addiction. Carlton K. Erickson, Ph.D., University of Texas Addiction Science

Addicts are bad, crazy, or stupid.

Evolving research is demonstrating that addicts are not bad people who need to get good, crazy people who need to get sane, or stupid people who need education. Addicts have a brain disease that goes beyond their use of drugs.

Addiction is a willpower problem.

This is an old belief, probably based upon wanting to blame addicts for using drugs to excess. This myth is reinforced by the observation that most treatments for alcoholism and addiction are behavioral (talk) therapies, which are perceived to build self-control. But addiction occurs in an area of the brain called the mesolimbic dopamine system that is not under conscious control.

Addicts should be punished, not treated, for using drugs.

Science is demonstrating that addicts have a brain disease that causes them to have impaired control over their use of drugs. Addicts need treatment for their neurochemically driven brain pathology.

People addicted to one drug are addicted to all drugs.

While this sometimes occurs, most people who are dependent on a drug may be dependent on one or two drugs, but not all. This is probably due to how each drug “matches up” with the person’s brain chemistry.

Addicts cannot be treated with medications.

Actually, addicts are medically detoxified in hospitals, when appropriate, all the time. But can they be treated with medications after detox? New pharmacotherapies (medicines) are being developed to help patients who have already become abstinent to further curb their craving for addicting drugs. These medications reduce the chances of relapse and enhance the effectiveness of existing behavioral (talk) therapies.

Addiction is treated behaviorally, so it must be a behavioral problem.

New brain scan studies are showing that behavioral treatments (i.e., psychotherapy) and medications work similarly in changing brain function. So addiction is a brain disease that can be treated by changing brain function, through several types of treatments.

Alcoholics can stop drinking simply by attending AA meetings, so they can’t have a brain disease.

The key word here is “simply.” For most people, AA is a tough, lifelong working of the Twelve Steps. On the basis of research, we know that this support system of people with a common experience is one of the active ingredients of recovery in AA. AA doesn’t work for everyone, even for many people who truly want to stop drinking.

Facts and Myths about Methadone

There are many myths about methadone and methadone treatment that need to be cleared up. Ore people know the myths than know the facts even the people who are in treatment and those are working in treatment. Most law enforcement have fixed erroneous concepts of methadone treatment. Many politicians and doctors suffer from the same misconceptions about methadone and methadone treatment. As much work as has been done to clear up the misconceptions it is still far from clear what methadone really is in the minds of most people.

Methadone in its many forms may be one of the most misunderstood medications that exist today. The word methadone congers up fear to many and to others it is seen as exchanging one addiction for another addiction. One of the main reasons it that is always shown in a bad light on TV and in the movies. To others it is a way to get out of a life of being controlled by opiates. Their every waking hour is spent trying to get their next high or find money to buy more pills. There are not many that are in the middle. Most people are either for it or against it without ever knowing the facts. Just like in every treatment paradigm there are people who want to get better and there are those who are just there for whatever reason. The reason could be as simple as wanting a better life or wanting to please a parent or spouse. It could be that they are dealing and want new sales. It could be they just “want” another high. The truth is that methadone treatment is the most effective mode of treatment for opiate addiction.

Methadone as a treatment is only as effective as the addicted person lets it be. Methadone is an addictive drug. If we quit allowing every drug that is addictive to be used a lot of people would be in trouble. There are many addictive drugs that are being freely prescribed by doctors. There is not nearly the hew and cry about those drugs. They help people?????? Methadone helps people by stopping the craving for opiates. It is difficult for a person to conquer their addiction to opiates because you are dealing with two facets. You have to deal with the physical addiction as well as the psychological addiction. If you can stop the craving you have given the person a leg up on their treatment. You have not cured them. You have started the on the path to a healthy life style. There are another group of people who go to a private physician for pain. Methadone is a good pain reliever. Once you reach therapeutic level you do not have to increase the dosage. That is one of the main reasons it works so well. There is no craving for more and more as with opiates. There is no need to increase the dosage because it no longer relieves the pain. It does!!

It rots teeth and bones. There is no evidence scientific or otherwise that this is the case. The teeth problem is poor dental hygiene catching up with you. The bone problem is just pure myth. Another myth is that methadone is harder to get off than heroin. It is different. The withdrawal may be longer. Methadone does not damage the body as is rumored.  It does not damage the liver. However, there are side effects

It does reduce energy and stamina. It does cause constipation. It does cause sugar craving and ultimately weight gain. It does cause sweating and/or hot flashes. It does affect sex drive in men and women. It does affect metabolism. It does help people stay off illicit drugs. It does not work the same for everybody. There is help for these side effects. That help is Nutridone.