When he was in middle school, Victor started smoking pot with his friends. They gave him some after school one day while they were at the park. It was a fun way to connect and relax. Victor’s parents were going through a divorce, and he definitely needed to relax. Within a few months, they were smoking every day, not just a few times a week. By high school, Victor’s marijuana use grew. He would smoke by himself whenever he felt overwhelmed—before a big test, when his girlfriend broke up with him, and so on. Now, he is working his first job. He knows that if just one drug test comes back with traces of weed, he will be fired. Victor is trying to quit, but he is not making any progress. He is beginning to wonder if this is an addiction.
“Addiction isn’t about substance—you aren’t addicted to the substance,
you are addicted to the alteration of mood that the substance brings.”
Did anything from Victor’s experiences sound familiar to you? Maybe the substances you use is different—it could be prescription drugs, alcohol, food, cocaine, or more. Maybe the behavior you struggle to control is not about a substance, but it is sex, shopping, Internet use, gaming, or gambling. In either case, the feeling is the same. Addiction is a disease that receives a lot of attention for the behaviors it induces in people, but the truth is, addiction is not about behavior—it is about brain balance. Like other major illnesses, it often requires therapy from a mental health professional to restore healthy balance to the brain.
The counselors at Thriveworks St. Louis have helped many clients restore healthy brain balance and reclaim control from an addiction. Treatment is not easy. There are no quick-fixes, but there is support and help along the way.
Myths about Addiction
Tens of millions of people in America have an addiction, and despite its being a widespread illness, there are still many myths about what it is and how it functions. Many of these misconceptions are actively harming those who have an addiction because they are stigmatizing it. Reaching out for help has become a source of shame instead of what it truly is—an act of courage. The truth is that addiction is a disease that can strike rich and poor, women and men, young and old. It does not discriminate against race, religion, or socio-economic status either.
Addiction’s prevalence is overwhelming, and the need for treatment is real. It is important to fight these stigmas so that the path is cleared and anyone who wants treatment feels empowered to reach out for it. An important step in fighting an addiction is often asking for help. It is time to fight these myths with the truth so that those who need help can receive it. Here are three myths about addiction and the truth that counters them:
1) Myth: Addictions Develop in Weak People
Here are a few risk factors for addiction: family history, genetic history, childhood trauma, allergies, and peer pressure. None of these have anything to do with character or strength. This is a shaming tactic that addiction can use to keep people trapped. If addicts feel embarrassed about the disease, they may be less likely to seek treatment. When addiction is treated for what it is—an illness—then people are empowered to seek help, just as a diabetic is empowered to seek help. This shaming myth isolates people when they need community. An important part of healing often involves fighting isolation and finding a support community.
2) Myth: People Choose to Be Addicted
Sometimes addicts beat themselves up and think, If I just made a different choices… next time, I will not give in. Addiction is a disease—not a choice. Treating addiction has nothing to do with willpower. Treatment involves re-establishing brain balance. This may involve some lifestyle changes, but it is not as simple as saying no to a drug or a drink or a bet or a log in.
3) Myth: Addiction Is Rare
Another lie that addiction whispers is that people are alone in their addiction—that no one else understands what is going on in their lives. The truth is that support groups for addiction are filled with people who understand. If 21 million people are currently struggling, how many more have struggled in the past and overcome the addiction? Many people who have healed from addiction are avid volunteers in recovery programs—giving of their time and their experiences so that others can experience the empathy and accountability they need to heal.
Reaching Out for Help: Scheduling Therapy with Thriveworks St. Louis for Addiction
Are you or is someone you love struggling? If so, you are not alone. There are effective treatments for addiction, and the mental health professionals at Thriveworks St. Louis have helped many find the healing they deserved. If you are abusing a substance or if you have a compulsive behavior, it may be time to seek help. When you contact Thriveworks St. Louis, know that you may be meeting with your therapist the following day. New clients often have their first appointment within 24 hours of their first call. We also offer evening and weekend sessions because we know life is busy, but therapy is important. We work with a number of insurance companies and accept many different insurance plans. Let’s fight this addiction together. Call Thriveworks St. Louis today.