10 Myths About Addiction

Addicts Must Hit Rock Bottom Before Recovery
These mug shots show the deterioration of a heroin user between 2003 (L) and 2007. But an addict doesn't have to wait until he is at his worst before treatment will work. Multnomah County Sheriff's Office / Barcroft USA / Getty Images

This may be the most dangerous misconception about addiction. An addict can recover from her addiction at any time. Yes, she has to be willing to change. But she might be willing to do so at the very start of her addiction. Too many people — addicts, their families, their friends — mistakenly wait for some major, tragic event to occur before trying to get or offer help. Unfortunately, sometimes that tragic event is an overdose or blackout or accident that results in death.

Even if the addict feels she won't have the will to fight for sobriety until she hits rock bottom, what does that really mean? Just as we all have different tolerances to pain, everyone will have a different point he or she considers "rock bottom." For one, it might be a girlfriend breaking up because of his addiction. For another, rock bottom might come only after her addiction causes joblessness, homelessness or jail time. It's always best to get help for an addiction as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more you risk serious consequences, including death.

A corollary to this myth is the belief that treatment won't work, unless the addict really wants it. But studies have shown that people who undergo court-mandated treatment do about as well as those who enter treatment voluntarily [source: Anglin et al.]

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