Let me hit this head on – no drug is addictive, not even the poster child for this myth – heroin. That is not to say that people do not feel addicted to drugs. That is not to say that people do not get physical withdrawal when they stop using certain substances such as heroin. But regardless of both of these facts, heroin does not contain addictiveness like an antibiotic contains anti-bacterial properties.
If you take an antibiotic, it will kill bacteria 100% of the time. You may not get well based on many other factors such as how much bacteria are present, the overall health of the host, etc., but the antibiotic will kill the bacteria in which it comes in contact. And it will do so every time. Antibiotics pharmacologically contain anti-bacterial properties. The same cannot be said for heroin – not everyone gets “addicted” when they use heroin – not even close. If the drug contained “addictiveness”, then it would create an instant addict each and every time someone used it. But that does not happen. The Freedom Model goes into detail on this topic:
Millions of people are prescribed opiates today, and yet they do not find them to provide an irresistible high that permanently lures them in. Even those who try opiates for recreational purposes don’t usually get hooked. And as researcher Norman Zinberg found, people have a range of pleasant and unpleasant initial experiences with the opiates. The majority of people who try them do not become hooked. This is fact. For example, data from 2004-2006 in SAMHSAs National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that only 31% of people who had tried heroin for the first time 1-2 years prior to the survey had used it again in the past year. That means 69% of people who tried it in one year definitely didn’t feel “irresistibly” pulled to use it again the following year. Similarly, 56% of those who tried the non-medical use of opiate pain relievers didn’t bother to use them again in the following year. Furthermore, only 13.4% and 3.1% of those who tried heroin and opiate pain relievers, respectively, were “addicted” in the following year (SAMHSA, 2008) (several reliable surveys over several years show the same basic pattern–that only a fraction who try it, continue to use the drug, and that an even smaller fraction display “addiction”).
We don’t have an exact number, but tens of millions of prescriptions for opioid painkillers are written every year; as a matter of fact the number of prescriptions in some US states actually outnumbers the population of those states. Yet when the Cochrane Group reviewed the available research to determine how many chronic-pain patients get “addicted” to painkillers, they found that it was less than 1%. The actual number was 0.27% (Noble et al., 2010). This information directly refutes the current narrative that people are getting “accidentally addicted” to opiates because of painkiller prescriptions.
These numbers destroy the myth that the opiates provide an irresistible high that pulls you in once you try it. The vast majority of people who use opiates don’t find them to produce an irresistible high. The innumerable millions of people prescribed opiates every year, and those given massive doses of morphine intravenously after surgery don’t find these drugs to produce an irresistible high. If they did, we’d have well over a hundred million opiate addicts in this country alone right now. As it stands in reality, we have approximately 2 million pain reliever “addicts” (less than 0.6% of the US population), and a fraction of that in heroin “addicts.” (SAMHSA, 2014)
To dig into some of the numbers more precisely, consider this: in the US, in the years 2002-2013, approximately 170,000 people tried heroin each year. The number of people experiencing heroin “addiction” in any of these years has fluctuated up and down between approximately 200,000-500,000 people per year or approximately 0.1% of the population. If everyone who tried it during that time period became addicted, we should have had approximately 2,040,000 heroin addicts on our streets by 2015–however we had only 329,000 at that point. So is heroin irresistible? Clearly it’s not to most people. (Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, 2016).
So there you have it. Some people prefer the effects they feel using heroin and other drugs and thus they choose to use them heavily. This is actually a tiny fraction of the population that has tried these drugs. Therefore, it is clear that the common idea that a quality called addictiveness lies inside the drug itself is a myth, and that addictiveness is just another word that distracts us away from the fact that some people prefer to get high, while most don’t.
And here is the positive side to this, preferences can change once you decide to stop being distracted by myths that have kept you trapped. The Freedom Model debunks the myths associated with addiction and we’ve helped thousands of individuals learn to move beyond addiction. You can enroll in a one-on-one course with a private instructor, or you can get away and attend our exclusive retreat for a more secluded private experience. Either way, we’re confident your experience will be unlike anything you’ve experienced before and most importantly, you’ll finally be able to break free from the treatment and recovery trap.