Just because someone suffers from an addiction to drugs or alcohol but still goes to work or school, has healthy relationships with others and appear to be living a normal life, doesn’t mean there are no problems. Normally, when someone hears the words “drug addict” or “alcohol,” it conjures up dark and depressing images. Most people think addicts and alcoholics are homeless, jobless, penniless and indigent. However, this isn’t always the case.

It’s true that sometimes addicts and alcoholics live on skid row and struggle with financial, social and emotional problems. These are dangerous stereotypes and not the only myths that exists about substance abuse.

Here are some more common misconceptions about substance abuse:

1.)    Addiction/alcoholism only effects adults: This is patently untrue, yet many people think youngsters can’t struggle with addiction issues. A lot of teens and young adults are currently suffering from alcohol and opiate issues, but once they become clean and sober they can’t believe they ever had a problem. Addiction and alcoholism do not discriminate and don’t care how young or old somebody is, it attacks relentlessly and takes no prisoners.
2.)    An addict/alcoholic can stop drinking whenever they want: This is another misconception about addiction and alcoholism. Many people with an addiction to drugs or alcohol know they have a problem and don’t like living the lifestyle they are currently engaged in. Addiction is a combination of emotional, behavioral, environmental and biological issues and it’s nearly impossible for someone to quit using or drinking cold turkey.  Addicted people go through cycles and because of physical dependence, cravings and triggers and because of these things it is not as simple as stopping when one would like.
3.)    Somebody with an addiction to drugs or alcohol can function normally and have no issues: False! It’s not impossible for someone to be a highly functioning addict and still be able to carry on with what seems on the outside to be a normal quality of life. However, someone who can function while under the influence could have problems behind the scenes that nobody knows about. Some people are better at holding themselves together than others are, but an addiction will become evident at some point in time, because it cannot be hidden forever.
4.)    There’s only one right way you can recover: Though not everyone is guilty of thinking this way, a lot of them do because they truly don’t understand the dynamics of addiction. Everyone is different and their path to recovery will be as well. Some people have become clean and sober through attending an inpatient treatment center, while others have done just as well in outpatient rehab.  The point is each person must find what works for them and once this happens they can recover and start to live an enjoyable, healthy life again.
5.)    Recovery is boring and being clean and sober means your fun is over: Probably one of the biggest deterrents to someone becoming clean and sober is the thought of losing all their friends and never having fun again. However, being in recovery means you adjust to life without your substances of choice and you learn new ways to have fun and you find friends you have things in common with. Being in recovery allows someone to invest wholly in their life experiences and not have to worry about losing everything and everyone they love.

Unfortunately, these are just a few of the most common myths that exist about drug and alcohol addiction. A vital part of breaking the stigma around substance abuse and helping people understand how good it can be to be free from addiction is to educate yourself and learn what’s true and what’s not.