If you are like the millions of Americans, you may have some long-held beliefs about addiction; beliefs like, “he has to hit bottom in order to get help,” “fix the addict and the family will be fine,” “no way is alcoholism is a disease – cancer is a disease – all s/he has to do is put down the bottle.” These beliefs are what perpetuate the stigma, misinformation and shame that allows this disease – yes, addiction is a disease – to continue a path of destruction that is deep and wide, harming those with the disease, their families and friends, the workplace and society as a whole.
Much is being done by a number of groups and organizations to share information and shed new light to counter these long-held beliefs — ManyFaces1Voice & The Anonymous People film, Faces and Voices of Recovery, National Council on Drug Abuse and Drug Dependence (NCADD) and Chooper’s Guide – as examples. Nonetheless, we’ve a long way to go — still. Over 23 million Americans struggle with the disease of addiction, yet fewer than 10 percent are getting the help they need. Millions more family members are affected by addiction, as well.
So I’m using my first post of 2014 and pulling from my 10+ years studying addiction, to share what I consider the top seven sound bites, with accompanying source and detail information, to help us update the 2014 conversations around addiction.
1 – “Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease.”
For source and details, visit The Addiction Project > Understanding Addiction, produced by HBO in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Why this sound bite? Defines addiction for what it is – a brain disease – and explains why it is a disease of the brain.
2 – “Drug abuse starts early and peaks during the teen years.”
For source and details, visit The Addiction Project > Adolescent Addiction.
Why this sound bite? Helps explain addiction as the developmental brain disease it is and supports the need for more effective underage drinking | drug use prevention efforts – especially those that explain the role of risk factors and the developing teen brain in relation to substance misuse | addiction.
3 – “… biological and environmental risk factors … can lead to addiction… .”
For source and details, visit The Addiction Project > Why Do Some People Become Addicted?
Why this sound bite? Helps explain why key risk factors, such as childhood trauma (verbal, physical and emotional abuse, for example), mental illness, genetics and early use, contribute to the reason one person who abuses a substance becomes an addict | alcoholic and another person abusing the same substance to the same extent does not. It also sheds light on the need to help children who are raised in homes with untreated, unhealthily discussed addiction understand it’s not them, it’s their family member’s addiction that’s the issue, for often a child develops several of the key risk factors as a result of these conditions. It also explains why substance abuse is not addiction and why someone who abuses a substance may be able to learn to use within “low-risk” limits, whereas someone with the brain disease of addiction cannot use any amount of their substance and avoid triggering the relapse of their brain disease.
4 – “Relapse is a cardinal feature of addiction.”
Why this sound bite? Provides the science to refute the common belief that relapse means treatment failed and/or the addict | alcoholic didn’t want recovery badly enough.
5 – “No single treatment is appropriate for everyone.”
For source and details, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) > Principles of Effective Treatment
Why this sound bite? Gets to the fact that addiction is a complex, treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior. As such, many “things” can help with brain function recovery (and therefore addiction recovery), including behavioral therapies, medications, effective co-occurring disorders treatment, nutrition, exercise, sleep, mindfulness practices, different treatment protocols for adolescent addiction vs adult addiction, 12-step and non-12-step programs, a strong aftercare program (in other words, detox and rehab are just the beginning – the brain is not healed in 28 days), and so on.
6 – “Recovery from addiction is a family affair.”
For source and details, visit National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADD) > Family Disease
Why this sound bite? Helps all concerned understand that family members (and/or friends) are deeply affected by a loved one’s addiction. They, too, experience life changes that need to be addressed - not only for their own quality of life but to best effectively support their loved one’s seeking treatment and succeeding in long-term recovery, as well.
7 – “…over 23 million Americans are living in long-term recovery from addiction…”
For source and details, visit ManyFaces1Voice & The Anonymous People Film
Why this sound bite? It proves addiction recovery is real, that it happens to real people and that it happens all the time.
Thank you for your help with sharing and using these sound bites. Together, joining forces with others long at work in this area, we can stop the stigma, end the misinformation and Shatter the Shame of Addiction with facts!
So here’s to 2014 and best wishes for a Happy New Year!