7 Sound Bites to Update 2014 Conversations Around Addiction

7 Sound Bites to Update 2014 Conversations Around Addiction

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.”

For source and details, visit The Addiction Project > What is Relapse?  Additional resource: NIDA > Relapse

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.


Working together to share 7 soundbites, with accompanying source and detail information, to help us update the 2014 conversations around addiction.

Working together to share 7 sound bites, with accompanying source and detail information, we can help update the 2014 conversations around addiction. Credit: Image Use Purchased from iStock


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!

Lisa Frederiksen

Lisa Frederiksen

Author | Speaker | Consultant | Founder at BreakingTheCycles.com
Lisa is the author of hundreds of articles and 11 books, including "If You Loved Me, You'd Stop!," "Addiction Recovery: What Helps, What Doesn't," and "Secondhand Drinking: the Phenomenon That Affects Millions." She is a national keynote speaker with over 25 years speaking experience, consultant, and founder of BreakingTheCycles.com. She has spent more than 14 years studying 21st century brain research in order to write, speak, and consult on substance use disorders prevention, intervention and treatment; mental disorders; addiction (aka substance use disorders) as a brain disease; adolescent addiction treatment vs adult addiction treatment; effective treatment for co-occurring disorders (having both a substance use and mental disorder); secondhand drinking | drugging; help for the family; and related subjects. In 2015, she founded SHD Prevention, providing training and consulting to companies, public agencies, unions, nonprofits and other entities to address the workplace impacts of employee secondhand drinking and alcohol misuse.
Lisa Frederiksen

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8 Responses to 7 Sound Bites to Update 2014 Conversations Around Addiction

  1. Lisa, this is an incredibly useful summary. I love it. For people who tend to get lost in detail, it is concise and commmunicates what you are trying to convey so clearly. I will be sharing this one! Thanks for all you do, and I hope you have a wonderful 2014.

  2. Kyczy says:

    These seven “truths” – sound bites based on science and research and confirmed with experience – can help many understand addiction and know that even with relapse long term recovery can be real. Thank you for culling these and writing about them here.

  3. Great information here Lisa. I just talked with a friend last night that has experienced addiction with their child, so will pass the post along. You continue to be an information resource that is invaluable. Have a wonderful new year!

  4. Elle says:

    This is amazing information Lisa. I’m curious about #2. How early is early? Is there a general consensus that addiction doesn’t begin before say the age of 12? Just a number I pulled out of the air. The more information available to us and the better educated we become the better off our kids and our world will be. Thanks for spreading the word.

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