Adi Jaffe is a fascinating guy. If you look at his photo, he looks put together, professional and you’d trust him if you sat down in his office to talk out your problems.

But Adi Jaffe isn’t just a researcher affiliated with UCLA, a PhD and an addiction specialist. He also can add “former addict” to his life resume. And he’s on the war path to extinguish the myths and misconceptions he feels are holding many addicts back.

What are the big myths about addiction? Here are the Big Ones that Jaffe feels are important to address:

  • hitting “rock bottom” isn’t where people need to be to finally get help, that’s too late
  • addiction isn’t a life sentence. Many people recover and life long, happy and fulfilling lives in sobriety
  • people aren’t addicted just because they have some sort of addiction gene
  • try marijuana and next you’ll be trying hard drugs—no, that’s a myth, too
  • it isn’t true that all drugs cause brain damage or that you’ll never be what you were before using drugs—one of the biggest myths

Like most myths, each of these has some element of truth in them, meaning that some people do actually hold the myth to be true. But the highest percentages of people with drug or alcohol abuse do not act, react, respond or behave in a vacuum or rigid mold. There are way too many factors and variables.

Treatment shouldn’t be based on addiction myths either

If there is one key concept that makes addiction treatment a success or failure, it is that the treatment must fit the person, not the disease. Having one treatment or treatment menu put rigidly in place for ever person is doomed for failure.

Even as recently as the 1980s substance abuse treatment was based on these myths, as well as other misconceptions about drug and alcohol addiction. The only thing we can count on is the creativity of humans to keep coming up with new and creative ways to be addicted to something in order to feel better or suppress physical and emotional pain.

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