5 Misconceptions About the Canadian Addict | CCFA 5 Misconceptions About the Canadian Addict | CCFA
21 Mar
5 Misconceptions About the Canadian Addict

Canadian addicts can certainly be troubled people, but they’re also unfairly maligned because of their addictions. Take a look at five misconceptions about addicts, and the truth behind them:

Most who use heroin or cocaine beyond a “minimum” amount become addicted

There’s a myth among Canadians that the more you use certain drugs like heroin or cocaine, the greater your likelihood of becoming addicted to them. Indeed, professional literature describes these drugs as habit-forming or addictive, and this belief has shaped drug policy for the country for more than 100 years.

However, this finding is not supported by facts or empirical evidence. It’s based upon the testimony of some addicts who believed that exposure to these drugs caused them to “lose control,” not carefully controlled studies on people. This pseudo-evidence also comes from highly technical research done on animals; the results do not prove that Canadian addicts become addicts because of their exposure to drugs. Empirical evidence supports the opposite, that more than minimal exposure does NOT cause addiction.

Heroin and cocaine abusers are addicted because of their exposure to the drugs

Neither empirical nor anecdotal evidence supports this. In fact, drugs like cocaine and heroin were routinely prescribed historically until restrictive laws were passed, without patients becoming addicted. More recently, patients given the option to self-medicate with IV morphine used considerably less than the machine was programmed to allow. Further, as patients continued to use the machine, self-dosing frequency decreased rather than increased.

Those addicted to prescription drugs are different than those addicted to illegal drugs

Prescription drug use is on the rise and has been for over a decade. There’s less of a stigma if one uses prescribed addictive drugs like Vicodin, Adderall, or Xanax vs. street drugs; the perception is that prescription drugs are somehow “safer” than street drugs, but not necessarily. While prescribed drugs are considered safe in recommended doses, Canadian addicts routinely take larger and/or more doses than prescribed, with similar dangers that taking street drugs pose.

Addiction is a choice

Experts believe that Canadian addicts don’t choose addiction. Instead, they are prone to developing addictions because they have biological differences versus those who do are not.

Once the addiction starts, the actual structure and function of the brain changes. Poor impulse control, inability to feel pleasure from ordinary rewards like food or sex, and a singular focus on getting and using drugs is the result.

Treatment should punish addicts so that they learn their lesson

Experts agree that addiction is a chronic disease similar to that of heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, but Canadian addicts are still treated too often as criminals or second-class citizens. Even established treatment centres use shame and confrontation to motivate addicts to quit.

Imposing shame or using confrontation is not only ineffective, but it can actually lead to relapse. It’s been shown that a better path to recovery is through “holistic” therapies like neurofeedback, which are much more effective.

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At the Canadian Centre For Addictions, we understand the challenges that come from alcohol abuse. We work with you to help you develop positive habits and a healthy lifestyle.

Canadian Centre for Addictions

These posts are written by the staff of CCFA based on the ongoings and observations in the addictions and recovery industry. We're a private drug and alcohol rehab with an inpatient location in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada and an outpatient location in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Drug Abuse & Drug Addiction

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