If we asked you to describe an alcoholic, what would your answer be? Useless, a low life, someone who has chosen to rely on alcohol? Unfortunately, many individuals follow stereotypes. They will place all individuals who suffer with alcoholism into the same box. Through this stereotype, many alcoholism myths have developed and held their own, placing prejudice on users.
Alcoholism myths are in fact dangerous. From causing significant obstacles in the recovery process, to making users feel like they cannot reach out for support, these alcoholism misconceptions are causing greater issues in today’s society.
Although great attempts of alcoholism myth-busting have been made, unfortunately, the world is still opinionated over alcoholism, without knowing the full story. Here are some of the alcoholism myths which still unfortunately exist, overbearing the actual facts.
If you’re affected by alcoholism, please do not let these stereotypes control your need to speak out. Here at Addiction Advocates, we are here to support you.
The dangers of alcoholism myths
Alcoholism myths exist, control and dominate the outlooks of society. In some cultures, or countries, they are aggravated even more. Unfortunately, a very negative picture of alcoholism is painted and of those who consume excessive quantities of alcohol. Through this picture, the majority of alcoholics are categorised as similar.
Many will believe that alcoholism is a choice, that those experiencing alcoholism enable their behaviour, that consumption can be controlled. While others will advance to the other end of the spectrum, believing that all individuals living with alcoholism are psychotic or criminals.
These alcoholism myths are in fact far from the reality of addiction. Alcoholism is a brain illness which can impact any individual. No matter your age, your gender, your career status, your wealth, your mental health, your criminal record, developing an alcohol addiction can happen to anyone. Of course, research suggests how alcoholism is likely to affect certain individuals more than others, down to genetics, environments and social factors. However, this shouldn’t fuel ongoing alcoholism myths.
The dangers of alcoholism myths are that many individuals will struggle with this level of judgment. They are more than likely judging themselves. Through additional streams of abuse, they understand that reaching out for alcoholism support will be challenging. They will be branded as an alcoholic, as the stereotype. Through this fear, many users will delay their attempt of addiction recovery, in turn, fuelling an even greater addiction.
Alcoholism myths are also pushing users to abuse higher quantities of drugs or alcohol, develop mental health issues, such as paranoia or depression, and in some cases, can sadly lead to suicide.
These stereotypes, these myths can sometimes carry even more dangers than substance abuse itself. Understandably, an initial choice was made to consume alcohol. Yet, once the addictive characteristics of alcohol present themselves, this choice has disappeared.
With this in mind, without knowing the back story, without knowing those who abuse alcohol, their causations and their experiences, alcoholism stereotypes shouldn’t be followed. Please remember that alcoholism could impact you, your loved one, your parent, your child, the list is endless. Have some empathy, because you never know what others are going through.
Myths vs facts about alcohol
Here are the most common alcoholism myths, controlling the perception of society, paired with actual facts on addiction.
- Alcoholism is a choice
One of the most common alcoholism myths is that abusing alcohol is a choice. Many believe that this behaviour can be controlled. However, the truth is that alcoholism isn’t a choice.
Through vast research it is found that there are many contributing factors which can increase an individual’s susceptibility to addiction. This can include cognitive weaknesses, the environments that they are exposed to, their childhood upbringing or even their stress levels.
As there are a number of factors which already exist, excessive alcohol abuse can soon turn into an addiction, without any control. Once prolonged alcohol consumption does impact the brain, here is where involuntary adaptations to outlooks, choices, attitudes and behaviours are likely, which cannot be controlled.
- Prescription drug addictions are different to those of illegal substances
This is one of few alcoholism myths which can be justified from first look. Many individuals will believe that prescription drugs are safe as they are provided by medical professionals. Through this outlook, they will place the abuse of illegal substances as much worse.
However, to bust this myth, both prescription and illegal drugs are dangerous when misused. Both forms of substances can become highly addictive, resulting in an addiction diagnosis, physical and psychological health problems, and an uncontrollable dependence.
Likewise, as we live in a world where excessive alcohol consumption is normalised, many will believe that alcoholism is a lower level addiction. When in fact, it is just as dangerous as other substances.
- Alcoholics are all the same
This is a damaging misconception, where all alcoholics are seen as the same. Many will associate alcoholism with crime, abusive relationships, with those with high tempers, with those with little to live for.
When in fact, alcoholism can impact anyone. From the most successful doctor and someone in power, to celebrities and those with lower qualities of life, alcoholism is currently affecting a wide range of people. As there is also a high correlation with mental health issues, more and more individuals are becoming affected by alcoholism; even those you wouldn’t expect,
Alcoholism myths like this one are very dangerous as those who are stereotyped as an alcoholic can sometimes be mis-accused, while those who deviate from the common characteristics will be overlooked when searching for help.
- Punishment should be prioritised over rehabilitation
Punishment is seen as a stronger way of treating alcoholism, down to misconceptions. Society believes that punishment will motivate users to recover. However, this will in fact push most alcoholics to the other end of the spectrum.
As alcoholism is a brain illness, rehabilitation is required. No matter how severe an alcoholic’s actions may be, in order to recover, rehabilitation programmes are necessary. Alcoholism should be treated as other involuntary illnesses, instead of a voluntary disease, habit or choice.
By breaking alcoholism myths like this one, many more individuals will have access to high-quality treatment, while also feeling confident to reach out for this level of rehabilitation.
The above alcoholism myths, along with many more do regulate the outlooks of society on alcoholism. It is however important that a change is made, helping to support those in need of alcohol addiction treatment.
If you’re unfortunately suffering through the battles of alcoholism, we are here for you at Addiction Advocates. We will listen, treat you as an individual and understand your back story, avoiding all alcoholism myths.