Alcoholism affects 16.6 million Americans, but a huge part of our population still holds on to many common misconceptions regarding the condition. This lack of knowledge can negatively shape society’s perception of alcoholics or even cause many to ignore possible signs of alcoholism. To fight off the problem, we as a nation must trump these long-held beliefs by educating people on the truth about alcohol addiction.
Here are 5 myths about alcoholism that are imperative for all to know.
1. Alcoholics are not functional in society.
This is one of the most common and widely believed myths about alcohol use. Because alcohol is so widely accepted within our society, and the true nature of addiction is often misunderstood, we tend to associate alcoholism with chaos and an inability to function on a day-to-day basis. However, in reality, many people who are addicted to alcohol find a way to incorporate it into their daily lives while still carrying out their responsibilities. The addiction component ultimately takes over when the afflicted person can no longer carry out his or her responsibilities without the influence of alcohol.
2. Only those with a family history of alcoholism are vulnerable.
The only demographic that alcoholism cannot reach are those who abstain from alcohol altogether. Though it’s true that those with a family history of alcohol dependence are at a higher risk to develop an addiction to alcohol, that does not mean that the rest of the population who consume alcohol are not at risk. Addiction does not care about your gender, the color of your skin or your socioeconomic status. Addiction only cares about how often you give it your attention.
3. Drinking is much safer than doing drugs.
The fact that alcohol is a legal substance that’s highly marketed makes it extremely dangerous. Alcohol is abused more often than all of the illicit drugs combined and is involved in more deaths and injuries. Due to a lack of understanding of how alcohol is metabolized, people will accidentally overindulge without realizing how much alcohol they have consumed. Too much can result in blackouts which can then lead to irrational decisions or exposing yourself to dangerous situations that can result in injury or death.
4. Someone suffering from alcohol addiction will suffer for the rest of their life.
The only truth about this statement is that alcoholism is a huge obstacle for those who are going through the recovery process. However, alcohol addiction is a spectrum disorder, meaning that there are several levels of severity that someone’s addiction can fall under. Many who are considered to suffer from alcoholism can recover with treatment and self-discipline. On the other hand, there is a population of people who will never be able to fully recover from their addiction, but this does not mean that all addicts will suffer the same fate. Every person’s addiction is different and, in a few cases, the labels can be more dangerous from a psychological perspective.
5. Alcoholism is a personal problem.
This statement could not be further from the truth. Alcoholism affects everyone attached to the addicted person. Because alcohol addiction is so commonly misunderstood, family members and friends will often enable the disease by justifying the alcoholic’s actions or picking up extra responsibility. The mentality is that the addict is drinking as a result of stress so if the stress is alleviated then the consistency of the addictive behavior will stop. This way of thinking will almost always result in the addiction worsening to the point that relationships will start to dissolve, or conformity of the addictive behavior will begin to thrive within the household.
There are many more falsehoods that surround addiction, but they all stem from the lack of education on the subject matter. Addiction can be difficult to understand especially when there is emotion evolved. However, by understanding addiction and the mannerisms of those addicted we can find help for those who need it much faster. While abstinence from alcohol and other addictive substances would ideal, we live in a world where that is unrealistic. Knowing your enemy is the best way to defeat it.