5 Untrue Drug Addiction Stereotypes

Durg abuse is higher amongst the richer crowdMillions of Americans suffer from drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, with many more experimenting with drugs every year. Despite this high prevalence, drug abuse remains stigmatized within American society. Americans commonly hold stereotypes about drug addiction that maintain this stigma against those in treatment or recovery.
  1. Only “down and out” types struggle with addiction.

    The stereotypical heroin addict is often conceptualized as poor, a racial/ethnic minority, and from a troubled background. The reality is much more nuanced. Although many drugs users come from low socioeconomic status homes, use of alcohol and other drugs among teens is actually higher in middle or upper class families.  There is no “typical” drug user — men and women of all racial backgrounds and social classes can experience addiction.


  2.  Trying it just once won’t hurt me

    Many people mistakenly believe that trying a drug just once or twice will not have negative effects. However, certain drugs can have a powerful effect on the brain’s reward system after just one use. Methamphetamine and heroin are particularly addictive. In fact, many individuals with addiction report that they felt a powerful urge to use the drug again after their first use.


  3. Addiction is a disease without a cure

    Addiction can be thought of as a disease. Similar to diabetes or cancer, some people are at greater risk for becoming addicted to drugs and medical treatments are available. However, many people are under the misperception that addiction is incurable. It’s true that former drug users often continue to experience cravings or desire to use. Despite this, medical and psychological interventions are available to help individuals overcome addiction. Although the recovery process is lifelong, addiction is far from incurable.


  4. Addiction only happens to people with weak willpower.

    In some cases, drug users are portrayed as succumbing to peer pressure or having an inability to control their use. However, many factors — including genetics and environmental pressures — influence ability to control drug use. Risk of addiction has nothing to do with willpower, and people with very strong personal control can still become addicted to drugs or alcohol.


  5. If I don’t use daily, it doesn’t count as addiction

    A common stereotype of drug addiction is chronic, daily use. For example, a stereotypical alcoholic wakes up in the morning, has a drink, and continues drinking throughout the day. In reality, addiction may not be so clear-cut.
Someone might drink a bottle of wine three nights per week but have only a glass or two on other days. Craving the drug, experiencing negative effects when it’s not available, and requiring a larger amount to get the same effect are common signs of addiction.

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