The Myths About Alcoholism

Today we know more about alcohol and its effects than in the past. Still, alcohol myths and myths about alcoholism exist. As a result of these misconceptions, people may make unhealthy drinking choices. Learn the facts vs. myths about alcohol and alcoholism to lower your risk of developing alcohol use disorder.

Myths About Alcoholism #1: I Only Drink on the Weekends

“I don’t have a drinking problem because I choose when I drink.” Some people have some self-control over their drinking. They may only drink at certain times of the day while not drinking on others. 

For the most part, this “controlled” drinking only fools themselves and their loved ones to believe they are not struggling with alcoholism. However, when a person works so hard to show they have control, it typically is an obvious sign of alcohol use disorder (AUD.)

Alcohol Myths #2: I Can Hold My Liquor, So I Don’t Have a Problem 

Many drinkers brag about being able to have a few drinks and not feel it. But that is not a good sign. In fact, if you need to drink more to feel the effects of alcohol, it is a sign of a bigger problem. 

People who drink alcohol on a regular basis typically build a tolerance. When this happens, it will require more alcohol to start feeling the “buzz” from drinking. Seeking help at this early stage can stop further serious health issues.

Myths About Alcoholism #3: I Only Drink Beer and Wine, So I Don’t Have a Problem

Having a drinking problem isn’t about what you drink; it’s about how it affects your life. You may be struggling with alcohol use disorder if you can answer “yes” to any two of the following statements.

  • I often drink more and for longer than I planned to. 
  • I have tried to cut down my drinking, but I can’t.
  • Many of my days are filled with drinking, being sick from drinking, and recuperating from drinking. 
  • Often my thoughts are consumed by drinking, and I can’t think about anything else. 
  • My drinking often prevents me from handling my responsibilities at home and work.
  • I continue drinking, although it is causing trouble in my family.
  • I stopped participating in hobbies and activities that I love. Instead, I use the time to drink.
  • My drinking leads to risky behaviors such as driving under the influence or having unsafe sex.
  • My drinking is causing anxiety, depression, and other health issues but, I can’t stop.
  • I am drinking more than I use to to get a “buzz.” 
  • If I don’t drink, I have withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, nausea, and sweating. Withdrawal symptoms also include hallucinations and seizures. 
Alcoholism myths

Alcohol Myths #4: I Am Too Old To Have A Drinking Problem

One myth about alcoholism is drinking problems begin at an early age. But, it is common for people to develop alcohol use disorder later in life. To start with, some people may become more sensitive to alcohol. At the same time, some people don’t start drinking till they are older. 

If you are over 65, what is a healthy drinking range? It is recommended that over 65 not drink more than 3 drinks a day or 7 drinks a week. A standard drink is:

  • 12 fluid ounces of beer
  • 5 fluid ounces of wine
  • 1 ½ ounce of liquor

Myths About Alcoholism #5: Drinking Helps My Chronic Pain

People with chronic pain will try anything to help with the pain. Frequently, they turn to alcohol because it is considered safe compared to illicit drugs. However, there are several reasons why this is an unhealthy choice. 

  • Pain-relieving drugs and alcohol do not mix. If you drink while taking pain killers, it can increase your risk of stomach bleeding, liver issues, and various other health complications. 
  • Your risk of alcohol use disorder is increased when you combine alcohol and pain medication. 
  • Chronic alcohol use can actually worsen the pain. In addition, alcohol withdrawal can make you more sensitive to pain. At the same time, chronic heavy drinking can lead to permanent nerve damage. 

Alcohol Myths #6: Coffee Will Sober Me Up If I’m Drunk

One of the most common myths about alcoholism drinking coffee or eating food will sober you up. Unfortunately, time is the only thing that works. Although the caffeine in coffee may make you feel awake, it doesn’t improve decision-making skills. In fact, alcohol can impair your decision-making skills for several hours. 

Myths About Alcoholism #7: I Can Spot A Drinker By their Appearance

You know the expression, you can’t judge a book by its cover, that is also true in alcoholism. People who struggle with alcohol use disorder come in every shape, size, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background. Some people may be even highly functional and can hide their disorder. 

According to a Gallop poll, alcohol use is the highest in well-educated, high-income earning individuals.  For example, 80 percent of college graduates and 78 percent of those making over $75,000 a year report drinking alcohol.

Alcohol Myths #8: It Only Hurts The One Who Drinks

The most untrue myth about alcohol is, it isn’t hurting anyone. Many drinkers believe they are only hurting themselves. But, alcohol use disorder causes behavioral changes in drinkers. These changes can make you act differently around your friends and family. 

Alcohol use disorder sometimes makes you irritable, angry, and violent. These outbursts can scare your loved ones. At the same time, it can tear even the strongest relationships apart. And, children may become uncomfortable in their own homes.

Alcohol Myths and Myths About Alcoholism vs. Facts About Alcohol

myths about alcoholism

Myth: Alcohol is a sedative.

Fact: In small quantities, alcohol can act as a stimulant. In larger amounts, alcohol can be a depressant. 

Myth: Alcohol affects everyone the same.

Fact: Alcohol, like all other substances we put in our bodies, affects each person differently. 

Myth: Everyone who drinks alcohol will develop an addiction.

Fact: Most people can have a drink daily, and some can binge drink without developing alcohol use disorder. 

Myth: People who drink responsibly do not struggle with alcohol use disorder. 

Fact: Many people drink responsibly for years and then develop alcohol use disorder for a variety of reasons. 

Myth: Some people with alcohol use disorder can still drink responsibly.

Fact: Even after years in recovery, people who have alcohol use disorder can never return to drinking. Any amount of alcohol can trigger old habits and feelings, leading to recurrence of use. 

Myths About Alcoholism and the Dangers Of Stereotyping Drinkers

Common stereotypes of people with alcohol use disorder include:

  • They don’t have much money.
  • Often drinks cheap alcohol out of a brown bag.
  • Unemployed and unemployable
  • Estranged from their families
  • Physically and verbally abusive
  • Drinks every day
  • Drinks as soon as they wake up
  • Has frequent blackouts
  • Their life is a mess
  • Poor hygiene, unkempt appearance
  • They like drinking alone

Although some myths about alcoholism are true of some drinkers, most drinkers do not match any of the alcohol myths. In reality, many people with alcohol use disorder are described as:

  • Financially stable with nice belongings
  • Only drinks top-shelf alcohol
  • Highly respected in their successful careers
  • Extremely loved by their families
  • Is never aggressive when they drink
  • Can stop drinking for days
  • Doesn’t drink in the mornings
  • Never blackouts
  • Highly respected in the community
  • Always well-groomed
  • Generally drinks with others

Facts to Debunk Alcohol Myths

  1. Alcohol is a depressant. As a result, it slows down brain activity.
  2. A 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 86.4 percent of adults drank alcohol in their life. 
  3. Also, the NSDUH found that 70.1 percent drank the previous year. At the same time, 56 percent drank last month. 
  4. Alcohol triggers dopamine releases. This chemical is associated with pleasure and reward.
  5. Alcohol tends to relieve stress because it increases the neurotransmitter GABA. 
  6. Alcohol is the most commonly misused substance.
  7. Alcohol is processed in the liver.
  8. Men typically use alcohol more often than women.
  9. Women are more likely to encounter health complications from drinking than men.
  10. Teens who begin drinking before the age of 15 typically develop alcohol use disorder later.
  11. Alcohol withdrawal can cause symptoms of seizures, hallucinations, and even death. 
  12. The use of alcohol is a significant risk of dementia.

Defy the Myths About Alcoholism by Overcoming Alcohol Use Disorder Today

Maybe you grew up believing these alcohol myths. Did you start drinking in high school because the myths about alcoholism made you think it was harmless? Are you struggling with alcohol use disorder but afraid to seek treatment because you don’t match the stereotype? You are not alone. Help is available today.

At Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center, our compassionate staff understands the many struggles of addiction and recovery. So, if you or a loved one struggles with alcohol use disorder, now is the time to seek help. Contact us today and find out how you to can live a life free from addiction. 

References:

https://news.gallup.com/poll/184358/drinking-highest-among-educated-upper-income-americans.aspx

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000856.htm

https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015.htm#tab2-41b