When you hear the word “addict,” you probably picture an irresponsible person who lacks the motivation to take care of themselves or other people. In your mind’s eye, they may be unemployed and living out of their car or on the street, relying on others’ generosity to help them with the bare necessities. While that unfortunate reality can be true in some cases, it’s essential to realize that addiction is an equal-opportunity disease. Anyone can fall prey to a substance abuse disorder, regardless of their values, upbringing or socioeconomic status. In this post, we’ll break down some of the most widely believed stereotypes about addiction.
Stereotype 1: Addicted People Can’t Stay Employed
Many ambitious, intelligent people seek careers in fields like health care or legal professions. While these jobs can be rewarding, they also tend to be demanding and stressful. It might be hard for you to imagine a successful surgeon or attorney becoming reliant on drugs and alcohol because someone who holds such a high-status job doesn’t fit your idea of a stereotypical addict.
Indeed, health providers and lawyers are among the professionals most vulnerable to developing substance use disorders. Other high-risk careers include those in the hospitality industry, members of the military and first responders. These so-called “high-functioning” addicts have learned how to hide their harmful behavior behind a facade of normalcy. Typically, people who fall into this category will go to great lengths to separate their daily responsibilities from their substance abuse, so nobody around them will suspect all the problems happening behind closed doors.
Stereotype 2: Addiction Is a Weakness
Another persistent misconception stemming from stereotypes about addiction is that people who regularly misuse substances are somehow morally inferior and not worthy of help or empathy. Framing addiction in this way harms many people who are already feeling isolated and ashamed because of their illness. Like diabetes and cancer, addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease that deserves treatment as such. Once a substance use disorder has taken over someone’s life, it becomes nearly impossible to walk away without help.
Addiction can compel someone to make irresponsible, illegal or impulsive decisions, but it’s crucial to separate the addicted person from their behavior. Remember, nobody starts drinking or using drugs with the intent of developing a substance use disorder. Since addiction changes brain chemistry, pursuing their substance of use can become an addicted person’s all-consuming priority.
Stereotype 3: People With Substance Use Disorders Should Struggle in Silence
The enduring stigmas and stereotypes about addiction convince many people who live with a substance abuse problem that they should try to overcome it on their own. However, it is crucial to admit to yourself and others that you need help. Keeping a secret of this magnitude from your family, friends and work colleagues is a tremendous psychological burden that may be impossible to carry in the long run. When your health and quality of life are on the line, seek support from an accredited provider as soon as possible.
Residential Recovery in Austin, Texas
At Spearhead Lodge, we know from firsthand experience that there’s no such thing as a stereotypical addict because we’ve worked with young men from all walks of life. To learn more about enrolling yourself or a loved one in our extended-care substance abuse treatment program, please call us at 866-305-2298 or fill out our convenient contact form today.