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Biggest Addiction Treatment Myths


Don’t let these false assumptions prevent you from making a change 

Seeking support for a substance use problem often takes courage. Even though the stigma of admitting to a problem is diminishing, it along with some false assumptions contribute to the fear. As part of Manitoba Substance Use and Addictions Awareness Week, the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba wants to dispel the addiction treatment myths that may prevent people from making positive lifestyle changes.


If you are having trouble with substance use it’s because you have no self-control

Stopping overuse of alcohol/drugs or overcoming an addiction is not simply a matter of willpower. Regular substance use changes how our brains function over time, which can make positive changes more challenging. Both genetics and our environment play a role in how susceptible we are to addiction.


Everyone who has problems with substance use has an addiction

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders sets out specific criteria for a diagnosis of substance use disorder (an addiction). It’s possible for someone to experience significant life problems related to their substance use but not meet those criteria. Regardless, if alcohol or drugs are causing difficulties in areas such as relationships or work performance, reducing use will help -- even small changes can make a difference.


Addiction treatment involves entering a 28-day in-house facility

While intensive, live-in treatment is appropriate for some, the vast majority of those who get treatment for an addiction and are successful in their recovery do so through individual counselling, support groups, and other community-based programming.


To recover from an addiction, you must commit to complete abstinence

Not everyone’s recovery journey involves abstinence. Entering treatment does not necessarily mean stopping the use of substances completely. Even small changes can improve health and wellbeing.


Someone living with an addiction must hit “rock bottom” before being ready to get support

Although it is often the case that someone who has experienced the negative effects of substance abuse has increased motivation to deal with it, it is not true that a person has to lose everything (job, relationships, health, security) before being ready to make positive changes.


Someone who consumes a few too many drinks on the weekend should be able to moderate their alcohol use without professional assistance

Many people who want to cut back on their overuse of alcohol are able to do so on their own or with the aid of self-help resources. However, everybody is unique and talking to a counsellor about overuse can be helpful for kickstarting a plan and addressing any underlying issues.


Call the Manitoba Addictions Helpline at 1-855-662-6605 or visit for more information on available supports.

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