If you live with substance use disorder, or know someone who does, you know that there are tons of myths and misconceptions about the disorder, which is technically a mental illness. "Many people believe that someone [with substance use disorder] is making the conscious choice to keep using," Dr. Lawrence Tucker, a psychologist and expert on substance use disorder, tells Bustle. "Thoughts like, 'If she loved me, she’d stop,' and 'He’s choosing the drugs over me,' prevail." And because those thoughts don't accurately reflect the reality of the situation — that a person who lives with substance use disorder is not choosing to use that substance — when a person who's dealing with substance abuse hears them, it can have a negative impact on their recovery.
Some myths about substance use disorder are easily dispelled, but others are far more insidious, not to mention entrenched in how our culture thinks about addiction. And these myths and misconceptions are seriously problematic, because they foster unhelpful belief systems and discourage people who are trying to manage their substance use from getting the help they need. If you encounter any of these misguided ideas, pause and do a reality check immediately. Here are five myths about substance use disorder we need to debunk, ASAP.