Alcoholism can be crippling and can lead to financial, mental, and physical ruin. Alcohol use disorder continues to consume the lives of millions of Americans every year. Alcoholism is more than having a few drinks in a single sitting; it is excessively drinking frequently. This alcoholism dependence can end up creating several issues in a person’s life.
A stigma about alcoholism has emerged over the past decade. There are several myths about alcoholism that portray this substance use disorder as a very specific and unbeatable condition. However, this is simply not the case and help is always available. Today, we’ll be looking at common alcohol myths and the truth about this life-changing addiction.
Before debunking the myths about alcoholism, it’s important to know what alcoholism is. Alcoholism is also known as alcohol use disorder and occurs when a person is unable to control their drinking. They may drink excessively and frequently. A person dealing with alcoholism will also become dependent on it – meaning they need it in their system to function (and will experience withdrawals/urges when it’s not). Signs of alcoholism may include:
- Drinking in secrecy
- Isolation from friends and family
- Intense mood swings and irritability
- Experiencing hangovers when not drinking
- Changes in appearance and friend groups
- Signs of short-term memory loss and blackouts
- Justifying or making excuses for their drinking habits
- Deciding to drink over obligations and responsibilities
Myth #1: The Severity of the Addiction Depends on the Type of Alcohol
There is a common myth about alcohol that choosing to drink beer instead of something harsher won’t lead to alcohol dependence. Some people may look at wine and think that it won’t be harmful to drink it in excess. The reality is that it doesn’t matter what kind of alcohol is consumed, alcohol dependency is always possible. There are many people out there who suffer from dependency on wine and beer.
Some people may also use comparison to justify their alcoholism. Some people may compare alcoholism to other more serious addiction like cocaine or benzo addiction. This is both dangerous and untrue. While there are other more serious cases of addiction, these don’t make alcoholism any less problematic and dangerous. Plus, people may use this logic to combine alcohol and other drugs (which is extremely dangerous and should never be done).
Myth #2: Alcohol Dependence is a Choice
With all cases of addiction, a person never chooses or intends to become dependent on a drug – alcoholism is no different. A person cannot control their dependence on alcohol once they have developed it. Constant alcohol use changes the chemicals in the brain and its desires. This makes it near impossible for a person to control how much they drink by themselves.
Alcohol and other drugs can affect the neurotransmitters in a person’s brain. This can escalate to the point where the body struggles to receive and send signals to the rest of the body. This can be the cause of impaired judgment and slurred speech when a person is under the influence. These types of myths place blame on the person as if they have control.
Another aspect of alcoholism people don’t realize is tolerance build-up. As a person continues to drink they become more and more tolerant to its effects. This causes them to have to drink more and more to reach their desired effects. Tolerance can start to build up over time without a person even realizing it. Tolerance is what can eventually lead to alcohol dependence. When this breaking point is hit a person will experience withdrawal symptoms when they are not drinking – some of these can be very painful and stressful.
Myth #3: Suffering from Alcoholism Means you’ve ‘Hit Rock Bottom’
One of the many myths about alcoholism includes the idea that alcoholism means you’ve hit ‘rock bottom’. The idea that you have lost your job and are in a terrible position in your social and home life. The truth is, alcoholism can look different from case to case. There are people who still maintain jobs and have families that still suffer from alcoholism.
Some still function and have responsibilities of their own while suffering from alcoholism. This idea that alcoholism means you are at rock bottom is not accurate and paints a different picture from the reality of alcoholism. Many symptoms can end up affecting a person’s life (even if they have a job or a family). If you notice any of these symptoms, it may be time to get help. Common symptoms of alcoholism can include:
- Lack of appetite
- Memory lapses
- Developing tolerance
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Making excuses for alcohol use
- Irregular or inconsistent emotions
- Problems focusing and concentrating
- Drinking alcohol to self-medicate or relieve stress
- Being defensive or getting angry when asked about alcohol use
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using (anxiety, headaches, cravings, etc.)
Myth #4: Alcoholism Only Affects Those Who Have It
People may believe that suffering from alcoholism is an isolated event. However, this is one of many myths about alcoholism that just aren’t true. In fact, it’s quite the opposite when it comes to who is affected by alcoholism. Alcohol abuse not only affects the person but everyone around them as well. A person’s spouse, children, co-workers, friends, and family can all be affected by their alcoholism.
Addiction can make someone change for the worse, sometimes become irritated, aggressive, or even violent in some cases. Time and time again, relationships are ruined and negatively affected by alcohol and drug use. This can also have an impact on the later generations as well (through a person’s children). Separation, divorce, and financial problems affect everyone around the person.
This is why it is crucial to get help so you avoid further problems for you and your family/friends. Treatment options like family therapy and counseling can be an excellent way to overcome addiction while keeping a supportive group (friends and family).
Myth #5: A Person can Overcome Alcoholism if They Try Hard Enough
The harsh reality is, that those who suffer from alcoholism never actively choose to do so. While a person may feel that they have it in them to resist the urge to drink, it is never enough. Quitting drinking takes more than willpower and motivation to do. It takes other resources and helps to break free from alcoholism.
Get the Help You Need Today
Becoming dependent on alcoholism is a process that physically happens in the brain. It is a psychological dependence, and simply trying to overcome it is not enough to break the habit. It is a much more complex and specific process trying to stop alcohol abuse. Oftentimes, a person must reach out for comprehensive help. This can only come in the form of professional help and rehab facilities like Harmony Place.
Myth #6: Those Struggling with Alcoholism Must Attend A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous)
While Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is one of the most widely accepted treatment methods for alcoholism it isn’t required for sobriety. Many people may think that they are required to go to AA to overcome alcoholism. This is one of the myths about alcoholism that aren’t true. While it isn’t as detrimental as the others on this list, it’s important to not be narrow-minded when it comes to alcoholism treatment.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a support group that is widely used and is most famous for their use of the 12-steps. While Alcoholics Anonymous has helped many people overcome their alcohol use disorder, it’s not the only way to treat alcoholism. At the end of the day, it’s important to choose a program that will fit your needs and preferences. At Harmony Place, we strive to make you or your loved ones’ experience comfortable and personalized for you.
Myth #7: Getting Sober is Not Possible
Perhaps one of the most disheartening myths about alcoholism is that getting sober is impossible. Another version of this is that people think they can overcome alcoholism alone – neither of these myths is true. Getting on the road to recovery and reaching sobriety is possible and achievable for anyone willing to put in the work. It is not an easy road but it is definitely not impossible.
Sticking to your treatment from the start to the finish will increase your chances of sobriety and success substantially. Getting to a sober and cleaner life is possible with the help of medical professionals and counselors. You don’t have to go through the process alone and you must not be discouraged from the get-go.
Start the Journey to Sobriety at Harmony Place
Certain myths of alcoholism can give a person the wrong idea about such a destructive condition. Every year, millions of Americans suffer from the consequences of alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Fortunately, there is still time to turn things around for the better. Harmony Place offers the best in therapy, clinical care, medication-assisted treatment, and many other treatment options. Do not wait until things get worse for you or your loved ones. Contact us today to learn about all our treatment options and how you can start the journey today.