10 Myths About Addiction


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Drug Addiction Is Worse Than Alcohol Addiction
Even though some street drugs are more lethal than alcohol, alcohol addiction is far more widespread than drug addiction -- mainly because alcohol is legal. kunertus/iStock/Thinkstock

One of the more pervasive myths about addiction is that drug addiction is worse than alcohol addiction. Perhaps this erroneous thinking stems from the fact that street drugs are illegal while alcohol is not. Or maybe it's due to the fact that more of us have seen someone drunk than stoned or high.

Yet according to a 2010 study in The Lancet, alcohol is the most harmful drug of all — more harmful than heroin, crack cocaine, methylamphetamine, cocaine, tobacco and a slew of others. In the study, drugs and alcohol were rated on a scale of 1 to 100 according to their harmfulness to the individual user and to others. Alcohol had the top danger rating (72), while heroin and crack cocaine were distant runners-up with scores of 55 and 54, respectively. While heroin and crack cocaine were ranked as more harmful to users than alcohol, alcohol came out on top because it is the mostly widely used drug and therefore the most dangerous to society [sources: BBC News, Nutt].

Addiction is a tragedy any way you look at it. But the better educated we all are about this issue, the better we'll be able to fight it.

Author's Note: 10 Myths About Addiction

Like many of us, I know people struggling with addiction. If only becoming healthy was as easy as recovering from the flu.

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Sources

  • Anglin, M. Douglas, Michael Prendergast and David Farrabee. "The Effectiveness of Coerced Treatment for Drug-Abusing Offenders." UCLA Drug Abuse Research Center. March 23-25, 1998. (Jan. 20, 2015). https://www.ncjrs.gov/ondcppubs/treat/consensus/anglin.pdf
  • Alcohol Rehab. "Common Myths about Drug Addiction." (Jan. 13, 2015) http://alcoholrehab.com/drug-addiction/common-myths-about-drug-addiction/
  • BBC News. "Alcohol 'more harmful than heroin' says Prof David Nutt." Nov. 1, 2010. (Jan. 15, 2015) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11660210?ictd%5Bmaster%5D=vid~09bc80d5-e6ac-4652-b7da-9a2be253ffdd&ictd%5Bil726%5D=rlt~1421181778~land~2_4755_seo_3a157923e86c4cad8c9fa85af800ba28
  • Carise, Deni. "Ten Popular Myths About Drugs, Addiction, and Recovery." Phoenix House. Nov. 10, 2010. (Jan. 13, 2015) http://www.phoenixhouse.org/news-and-views/our-perspectives/ten-popular-myths-drugs-addiction-recovery/
  • Drug Enforcement Agency. "National Drug Threat Assessment Summary 2013." November 2013. (Jan. 15, 2015) http://www.dea.gov/resource-center/DIR-017-13%20NDTA%20Summary%20final.pdf
  • Flanagin, Jake. "The Surprising Failures of 12 Steps." The Atlantic. March 25, 2014. (Jan. 15, 2015) http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/the-surprising-failures-of-12-steps/284616/
  • HBO. "Myths of Addiction." (Jan. 13, 2015) http://www.hbo.com/addiction/understanding_addiction/16_myths_of_addiction.html
  • Jaffe, Adi. "5 damaging myths about addiction." CNN. Sept. 13, 2012. (Jan. 13, 2015) http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/13/health/jaffe-addiction-myths/
  • Melemis, Dr. Steven. "What is Addiction?" Addictions and Recovery. Nov. 28, 2014. (Jan. 14, 2015) http://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/what-is-addiction.html
  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. "Alcohol & Drug Information." (Jan. 15, 2015) http://ncadd.org/for-the-media/alcohol-a-drug-information
  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. "Frequently Asked Questions and Facts." (Jan. 14, 2015) http://ncadd.org/for-youth/faqsfacts
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Featured Publication: Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs Chart." October 2011. (Jan. 15, 2015) http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts/commonly-abused-prescription-drugs-chart
  • Nutt, Prof. David and Leslie King and Lawrence Phillips. "Drugs harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis." The Lancet. Nov. 1, 2010. (Jan. 15, 2015) http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2810%2961462-6/abstract
  • Physician Health Program. "Doctors Vulnerable to Prescription Drug Abuse." Feb. 20, 2014. (Jan. 14, 2015) http://www.physicianhealthprogram.com/addiction-news/doctors-vulnerable-to-prescription-drug-abuse/
  • Riverwood Group, LLC. "Just What is Methadone?" (Jan. 15, 2015) http://www.methadonetreatmentcenter.com/just-what-is-methadone
  • Sack, David. "5 Myths about Addiction that Undermine Recovery." Psychology Today. May 14, 2013. (Jan. 13, 2015) http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201305/5-myths-about-addiction-undermine-recovery
  • Sheff, David. "PBS Newshour: David Sheff's Top 8 Myths About Addiction." David Sheff. (Jan. 13, 2015) http://davidsheff.com/pbs-newshour-myths-about-addiction/
  • Volkow, Nora. "The Essence of Drug Addiction." National Institutes of Health. 2001. (Jan. 14, 2015) http://www.science.education.nih.gov/supplements/nih2/Addiction/guide/essence.htm
  • White, Donna. "Myths About Addiction: They Could Stop If They Wanted To." Psych Central. (Jan. 13, 2015) http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/07/17/they-could-stop-if-they-wanted-to-common-myths-about-addicts-addiction/

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