Paramedic Nat

A Blog About a Paramedic's Mental Health Journey


March 2019

Myths About Addiction

On this episode I share myths about addiction and how to get through St.Patrick’s Day as a recovered addict/alcoholic. 

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Misconceptions About Addiction (My Opinion)

I have realized that there are still many opportunities for education surrounding misconceptions about addiction. As a recovered addict myself, I would like to share some of these with you.

  1. “Success” looks the same for addicts and non-addicts. As a non-addict, you may believe that success to an addict is recovery. When in fact, success to them may look like, having a shower, eating food, finding a clean needle, not overdosing, keeping their children safe, finding safe shelter, finding work, making it to work, not dying. We shouldn’t impose our success labels on others.
  2. Addicts just need to go to detox and they will get better. In order to be able to get a bed at a detox centre, several things have to occur. The addict needs to call themselves and ask for help (no one is allowed to do this for them), there needs to be a bed available (just today I witnessed a friend have to call back six times because there were no beds available), they need to not be intoxicated (detoxes require individuals to be clean to a certain extent, this may mean that the person requires hospitalization or withdrawal time prior to going to detox).
  3. Hospitals provide long-term addiction treatment. Hospitals are meant to provide emergent care and often do not have enough beds for patients requiring addiction related treatment. This can often lead to long wait times in waiting rooms, and with paramedics. When the patient is seen by a doctor, they are not necessarily admitted (this depends on many factors decided upon by the doctor and patient).
  4. Addiction is a choice and is not like other diseases. Addiction is a disease like any other disease. Addicts become such for many different reasons, (just like people acquire other diseases for many different reasons), one such reason being past trauma (physical and psychological). No one chooses to be an addict, it is a manifestation of physiological, psychological and social factors.
  5. Safe injection sites will encourage people to become addicts and only enable addiction. I know that this point is a touchy subject for many, but in my experience, and through listening to many lived experience stories, these sites are most often used by longterm drug users and do not encourage drug use – the use was already going to happen – just possibly not safely, and safe injection sites prevent the transmission of viruses such as hepatitis, HIV and bacterial infections that may cause heart inflammation, and localized and systemic skin infections.
  6. Addicts are dangerous and cause crime. I never broke a law as an addict. My drugs were legal and often prescribed (that’s a whole other topic of debate in itself). Yes, many drugs are illegal, but that does not make every addict dangerous. Yes, addiction can lead to illegal actions and crime, but many addicts do not fit into this category.

Do you have any points to add? I would love to hear them. Let’s all work together to educate one another and share lived experiences so that stigma can be smashed and acceptance and love can be promoted. We are all in this together.

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