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Busting the myths around addiction and recovery

Addiction can be a taboo subject, particularly in the professional world. Stats from our partner charity Action on Addiction say that one in three people suffer from an addiction – be that with drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, food… so it will likely touch many of us in some way – personally or through friends and colleagues. We were recently invited along to present at the northern area BPSA conference on addiction where we challenged some of the myths around dependency. Here we share with you some of those myths.

  • MYTH – Addicts are bad people– There are many stereotypical images that come to mind when picturing an addict – dishevelled, homeless, criminal, jobless. Addicts aren’t bad people, they have an illness.  They are mothers, grandfathers, dentists, lawyers, pharmacists, siblings who struggle with addiction on a daily basis.  It’s the habit that drives them to do bad things because the addiction becomes all encompassing, having a detrimental effect.
  • MYTH – If you have a high alcohol tolerance you don’t have a drinking problem – This is a very dangerous myth as clearly if you feel nothing after several drinks then you DO have a problem.  A casual drinker wouldn’t be able to finish a six pack or a bottle of wine without feeling the effects of it.  Anyone drinking this much on a regular basis and feeling fine should consider getting some help and advice.
  • MYTH – If you have a steady job and loving family life, you’re not addicted – Well you may have a job, a loving spouse and a great relationship with your children but be in denial and hiding the fact you have an addiction.  This is a ticking time bomb. You may have a forgiving partner and/or be holding down a job because you have a tolerant boss but if you don’t take action you risk losing everything and rock bottom may not be far away.
  • MYTH – If someone in recovery uses drugs or alcohol again, they’ll be right back where they were when they first quit – When in recovery for an addiction, the question of relapse is often not “if,” but “when?” Most addicts relapse at least once, and many do so multiple times. It is important to understand that relapse is part of the deal. Don’t give up – get right back on with the recovery process.
  • MYTH – If it’s a prescribed drug it must be safe, you can’t get addicted to something your GP would prescribe – Many medications are perfectly safe when taken in the prescribed dosage for a short period of time, however, prolonged use or misuse can be dangerous and addictive.

Help is at hand

There are a number of triggers that can lead to dependency –these include work overload, family pressures, illness, death, stress. Last year, here at Pharmacist Support we helped 28 individuals through a variety of addiction issues.  Addiction is something that doesn’t discriminate and at Pharmacist Support we don’t judge.  If you are experiencing problems with any addiction or compulsion such as gambling, eating issues or alcohol or you know someone who is, contact us for specialist and confidential advice and support through our Health Support Programme. There is also a directory of organisations and information on our website, including a variety of useful factsheets on alcoholism, drug abuse, stress and wellbeing.

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