6 Myths About Alcohol and Alcoholism That Need to Disappear
6 Myths About Alcohol and Alcoholism That Need to Disappear
Whether you have a loved one who is recovering from alcoholism or a recovering addict yourself, the fact remains that myths and stereotypes about alcohol can be very damaging. Here are 6 myths about alcohol and alcoholism that need to be put to rest now.
Alcohol is legal for those above 21 years old in the United States. But its legal status doesn't mean that it isn't abused or addictive. In fact, it's a huge problem in our country: over 15 million people struggle with some sort of alcohol use disorder.
Even though alcohol abuse is quite prevalent in our society, certain myths about alcohol and misconceptions about alcoholics persist. We're going to go over 6 of the most common myths that people still believe about alcohol and alcohol abuse. This will help you understand the truth about drinking and addiction.
Myth 1: Alcoholism Is a Choice
Since many people are able to drink alcohol without any addiction issues, it leads to the myth that heavy and consistent drinking and addiction is a personal choice people make.
However, alcoholism and addiction are far from choices we make. They're classified as chronic diseases that affect you mentally, physically, and socially. Alcoholism and addiction can be caused by a number of factors including:
- Drinking culture
- Social upbringing
- Mental health disorders
While it's a complex disorder, there's one thing that's certain: it's not a choice. Believing it's a choice will isolate those around you struggling, and it could even make them feel there's no hope at recovery.
Myth 2: Only Certain Types of People Are Alcoholics
If you're asked to picture an alcoholic in your mind, many people immediately think of someone who is grungy, dirty, poor, homeless, etc.
The truth is that anyone can be an alcoholic. Alcoholics can be CEOs, soccer moms, college students, wealthy grandparents, and schoolteachers.
There's no one look, class, or type of person that becomes an alcoholic.
Many alcoholics are high-functioning: they have good jobs, homes, and families. They seem like they don't have a problem because they become good at hiding their drinking. Or they convince themselves and others that their drinking is normal.
Be careful not to let your preconceptions of what alcoholics "look like" to blind you to the fact that anyone of any race, gender, or class can be an alcoholic.
Myth 3: You Can Cure Alcoholism
Alcoholics who are in recovery or get sober aren't cured of their alcoholism. Addiction and alcoholism aren't things that you simply get over. It will be a lifelong struggle to stay clean and sober, even after years without touching a drink.
This doesn't mean that recovered alcoholics are constantly ready to fall off the wagon. But it does mean that they must learn coping skills and behaviors that will help them stay on track if they're ever triggered or have the urge to drink.
Myth 4: Drinking Culture Is Normal and Harmless
Pop culture in America normalizes drinking. Think about most movies and TV shows today. Many feature teen binge drinking like it's nothing. Most adults on TV have a drink in their hand after work or get drunk after a big romantic drama occurs, or whatever the case may be.
And it isn't just the media. Social gatherings revolve around drinking. Work happy hours, college fraternity parties, dating, birthday parties, etc. Drunken antics and stories are seen as funny and cool instead of damaging and harmful. Getting blackout drunk in college is seen as a type of rite of passage.
But what all of this does is create a culture where alcohol abuse and addiction is seen as normal and not harmful. Almost 30% of adults report binge drinking within the past month.
This makes it easy to pass off dangerous and harmful drinking habits as "just having fun" or as "totally normal" when it could be a serious alcohol problem.
Myth 5: Quitting Drinking Is Easy and Is All About Willpower
This myth goes back to the first one we went over. When people aren't addicted to something, they don't understand that addiction is a disease. It takes over your life in a way that you can't control. You're physically and mentally addicted to this substance: your brain tells you that you need it no matter what.
Almost 90% of recovering alcoholics relapse. This isn't because of a lack of willpower: most recovering alcoholics want to quit drinking more than anything.
Quitting and getting sober isn't as simple as deciding to quit and having willpower. You have to change your behaviors, learn new coping skills, and deal with issues that triggered the drinking in the first place.
Myth 6: Getting Sober Solves Everything
Alcoholics sometimes expect that getting sober will solve all of their problems. While many problems will be helped by quitting drinking, that doesn't mean that everything is going to be perfect when you quit.
Usually, there are problems that trigger drinking problems in the first place. Drinking becomes a way to cope with emotional, physical, and mental trauma.
Quitting drinking will leave alcoholics without that coping mechanism. This can actually make things feel worse or harder since they don't know how to cope with issues.
Once you're sober, you need to learn new coping skills to deal with problems. Getting sober won't fix your tough relationships, your work anxieties, your depression, etc.
You have to learn to deal with your problems and separate them from your alcoholism.
Myths About Alcohol Debunked: Wrapping Up
Our culture perpetuates many myths about alcohol and alcoholism that can be extremely harmful. It's harmful to those suffering from addiction and to those interacting with those addicts.
Normalizing dangerous binge drinking and constantly having events and social gatherings centered around alcohol is only the beginning.
From there, the myths concerning addiction lead to the lack of understanding with both addicts and their families. This leads to not getting treatment, developing alcohol-related diseases, and more. Myths about alcohol abuse hurt us all, both addicts and non-addicts alike.
If you want more information about getting sober or about alcoholism in general, check out our blog. If you've gotten sober or know someone who has, that's an accomplishment worth celebrating. Check out our selection of sobriety gifts and tokens.