5 myths about drug addiction we need to drop

drug abuse

As we go into the festive season, I would like to all talk about something we’re going to be indulging in celebration of the Christian Lord and Savior’s alleged birthday. Drugs.

Mututho already went hard as a mother*bleep* on arguably the world’s favorite drug, alcohol. He tried to demonize it as the Devil’s brew and everyone who imbibes in this self admitted drinking nation has been branded persona non grata. The bars were shut, illicit brewers were arrested and the police will collect all your monies in bribes or else brand you a drunken loiterer with criminal intent if you’re caught outside after midnight staggering.

We all reveled in the sensational news of a drug carrying ship that was blown up off the coast of Kenya. Whoop, whoop! Now the evil drug addicts would really get it! No more drugs for users! Ha! Then we came to the hilarious, publicized burning of what they affectionately dubbed 2nd Generation alcohol. Those of us who could feel our pockets weep at the thought of the price we’d have to pay for our tipple, rejoiced to see certain governors take to their heels at the explosive wrath of our precious booze (high school chemistry wasn’t everyone’s forte) With these drug bust we witnessed addicts go into fits and shakes, some were hospitalized, others, unfortunately, died.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

This was the general consensus from none drug users who do not understand why “…people will waste their lives on drugs. Thinking of nothing more useful to the society than chasing their next high.” To these people I say, SHAME ON YOU!

There’s so much wrong with how we treat drug users as a society and it is not helping an already precarious situation. As with anything else, our mistakes as humanity in this regard are caused by willful ignorance. It is time to debunk the myths and misconceptions we entertain about drug use and addiction.

  1. Drug addiction is voluntary behavior:

Yes, a person starts with occasional drug use and that is a personal decision but as their usage continues it changes their brain chemistry in dramatic and toxic ways, or sometimes subtle less recognizable ways but ultimately this changes them from an occasional user to a compulsive drug user leading to the condition we call drug addiction.

brain

2. Drug addiction is a character flaw

Drug addiction is a brain disease. Every individual drug has its own mechanisms for changing brain function that range from altering the molecules and cells of the brain to changing memory processes and affecting motoring skills but in the end they all have similar effects on a person’s behavior towards the drug by impairing brain function. The drug becomes the single most powerful motivator in a drug abuser’s existence. He or she will do almost anything for the drug. This comes about because drug use has changed the individual’s brain and its functioning in critical ways.

3. You have to want drug treatment for it to be effective

Technically, no one wants drug treatment. Majority of those who seek it do so because of court orders or from the urging of loving family and friends who want them to change their ways. Studies have shown that treatment has worked best in institutions where patients face ‘high pressure’ to confront and attempt to surmount their addiction. They do better regardless of why they sought treatment in the first place.

4. Treatment should be a one-shot deal

Like most other illnesses, drug addiction is a chronic disorder. Sure some have overcome it by quitting cold-turkey or after only one stint in a rehabilitation centre but most users require long term, repeated treatment.

5.  People don’t need treatment. They can stop using drugs if they really want to

FACT: It is extremely difficult for people addicted to drugs to achieve and maintain long-term abstinence. Research shows long-term drug use actually changes a person’s brain function, causing them to crave the drug even more, making it increasingly difficult for the person to quit. Especially for adolescents, intervening and stopping substance abuse early is important, as children become addicted to drugs much faster than adults and risk greater physical, mental and psychological harm from illicit drug use.

Indulge responsibly this festive season and be kind to those amongst us, family and friends, who are battling addiction keeping in mind that we might be one shot of illicit liquor away from succumbing to the sirens call of drugs too. Enjoy.

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