Common Misconceptions of AddictsAddicts are Lazy People.Addicts may seem lazy but they aren’t always lazy people. In fact, they are usually very motivated to satisfy their cravings. It actually takes quit an amount of energy to plan and make sure there is enough of the drug through the rest of the day and for tomorrow and the day after that.Whether it is making sure you have computer access for pornography or that you have enough alcohol rationed out for the next day. Planning to obtain and ration your drug to make sure you have enough of it, while hiding it from those around you, takes a great deal of effort.When an addict becomes sober, they are quite surprised to find a lot of free time and do not know how to use it because it has always been consumed by addictive behaviors. This is why it is important to fill a sober addict’s time with other wholesome behaviors.Addicts Are Stupid. An addict’s brain undergoes changes that lead to irrational behavior. Addicts do stupid things, but they are not stupid. The irrational (pre-rational to be more accurate) part of the brain hijacks the rational side of the brain (pre-frontal cortex). This is why they make emotional decisions that seem irrational, and some addicts make poor decisions from fear of withdrawal.Addicts Live a Carefree Life.Many non-addicts I knew seem to get a bit envious of those who use drugs or alcohol throughout the day to escape responsibilities or live in their own carefree world. In reality, an addict that has to self-medicate to feel normal – whether it be from drugs, alcohol or pornography- often do not have a good time because they are just trying to feel normal. Remember a new “set point” of feeling normal has been made within the brain of an addict.Pornography addicts can feel very irritable or experience fuzzy thinking without porn. Alcoholics and drug addicts feel depression, hopelessness or physically sick without their drug. This is a life that has increasing physical, mental and emotional hardship in which engaging in the addiction no longer makes the addict feel euphoric, but normal.Addicts are slaves. They have to continue to use even though many of them know that it is wrong. They often have to lie to those they love and maintain a dishonest life in order to feel normal.Addicts are often paranoid and deal with greater fear than non-addicts. They know that their games cannot keep up. They usually know that sooner or later they will get caught and they know that their addiction will either cause serious problems in their relationships and in some cases may kill them.Addicts Lack Willpower.It is true that addicts usually lack the willpower to beat addiction, but remember that is because of the change in the brain caused by addiction. Due to the worsening nature of addiction on the individual’s brain, they are increasingly becoming more compulsive despite sever negative consequences.In the brain this results in an imbalance or “homeostatic deregulation” within the reward pathways, which further explain how addiction develops and relapse is all too common.When an addict tries to stop by willpower, only then does he feel the full strength of the addiction. They often don’t know the full strength of their addiction because they are always giving in. Once they make the decision to try to quit they are often defeated and may seem lazy because they lay in bed without a fix. But that is because they have a depleted dopamine level caused by long-term overstimulation.During abstinence the user experiences reduced reward neurotransmitters that cause feelings of anxiety, irritability or stress. Extremely high doses of opioids from opium based drugs show a profound alteration of the opioid receptors within the brain.A failure to quit a destructive habit is not because one lacks willpower, but because of the changes in the function of the brain.Motivation and fear of withdrawal will outweigh any or all rational reasons to stop engaging in the behavior. Since the brain has a new set point of normal so they continue to use without experiencing the terrible lows of being without the drug.An Addict Won’t Recover If He Is Forced. Addicts do not have to seek help in order for it to work for them. Remember, the majority of addicts are already in denial. They think they don’t need help, they think it won’t work, and they think that someday they will be able to figure out a way they can still use without having negative consequences.Addicts often do not go to support groups or treatment centers because they want to. In fact, most of the time addicts are forced to seek treatment. Whether addicts overdose and sent to a hospital or impatient treatment, court ordered or pressured from family the result seems to be the same. Addicts may go to rehab for the wrong reasons, but after a while of sobriety, they may start believing in the right reasons to continue treatment.In rehab, the addict has their drug forcefully taken away from them, and this is where the addict may realize how addicted they really are. Since addicts are always giving in, sometimes they need to feel the full power of their addictions before they realize they have a problem. Sometimes a glimpse of a “real life” situation will enable an addict to have a moment of clarity.Some addicts are able to quit for days or weeks at a time. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have a problem. In fact, if addicts didn’t have an addiction they wouldn’t be “quitting” in the first place. Addicts always think that they can quit, until they try their very hardest to stay sober forever. Sure an addict may go a few days or a week. This is how the addict rationalizes their addiction. They are constantly in denial because they feel they have control of their addiction if they do it less.References:1. Sinha R (2001) How does stress increase risk of drug abuse and relapse? Psychopharmacology (Berl) 158:343 -3592. O’Brien, C. P., A. R. Childress, R. Ehrman, and S. J. Robbins. 1998. “Conditioning Factors in Drug Abuse: Can They Explain Compulsion?” Journal of Psychopharmacology 12:15-22. Neurobiology of craving, conditioned reward and relapse Weiss 15 http://www.sciencedirect.com Current Opinion in Pharmacology 2005, 5:9-19.3. Chao, J., and E. Nestler. 2004. “Molecular Neurobiology of Drug Addiction.” Annual Review of Medicine 55:113-132. What’s the Lure of the Edge? The Answer Is All In Their Heads, New York Times, June 20, 2005.