Alcoholism is a rampant issue that is found in our society. Millions of people suffer from the consequences of alcoholism every day. Whether you are an alcoholic, friend or family member, boss, or employee of an alcoholic, your life is significantly affected by the devastating effects of the disorder and how it affects others.
Alcoholism is a commonly misunderstood disorder. Many tend to think of it as more of a personal issue or lack of motivation to quit, rather than a legitimate illness. It is a frustrating issue for everyone who is affected by alcoholism, even if they are not alcoholics themselves. Throughout the decades, researchers have made colossal steps to understand what alcoholism is and how it affects a person. Through this research, a great deal of resources have been made available to alcoholics, along with their friends and families, peers, and coworkers. Through these resources, awareness has spread about what alcoholism is and how it affects people. However, despite great efforts to educate people on what alcoholism is, there are still many myths and misconceptions about the nature of the disorder.
In this article, you will find the 5 most common misconceptions about alcoholism, along with how they affect people. These misconceptions are important to address because if they are not addressed a person will not understand what alcoholism is, how if affects an alcoholic, and what can be done to help a person who is suffering from alcoholism.
- It is mind-over-matter. You just need willpower to quit drinking.
To someone who has not struggled with alcoholism or addiction it can be easy to assume that the solution to quitting is to just have willpower. People tend to think that just quitting ‘cold turkey’ is easy, and anyone who is not able to successfully do so is simply lazy, dumb, or does not want it badly enough. However, if it were that easy to simply quit when drinking became a problem, there wouldn’t be alcoholics or addicts in this world. Alcoholism is considered a mental health disorder because it causes both physical and psychological damage to a person. An alcoholic develops a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. This means that in many cases the body and brain can literally not function without consuming some amount of alcohol. This is not in every case, but in many cases ‘just quitting cold turkey’ is simply not an option.
There are considerations to take into account when dealing with someone who is trying to overcome his or her alcoholism. Alcoholics face several challenges that affect their ability to successfully reach and maintain sobriety. Such challenges include:
- The ability to cope with stress
- The severity, intensity, and frequency of cravings
- Transitioning an entire lifestyle for sobriety
- Letting go of friends and social activities for a sober lifestyle
- Overcoming boredom
- Support systems
- Mental health issues or medical issues
- An alcoholic drinks every day, all day.
It is popular belief that in order for a person to be considered an alcoholic, he or she must drink all day, every day, and anyone who does not do this but does seem to have a drinking problem, may just overdo it sometimes. Despite popular belief, this is not the case. A person does not have to drink in excess every day and all day to be an alcoholic. There are alcoholics who can go without having a drink for days or weeks at a time. Some may binge drink occasionally, some may only drink on the weekends, and some may drink until the point of deep intoxication to cope with stress. Each of these patterns is indicative of a person who may be an alcoholic. A person does not need to be drinking all day and/or every day to be an alcoholic.
A person who is diagnosed with alcoholism is diagnosed based on diagnostic criteria. On this criteria there are varying levels of severities, based on:
- What you drink
- When you drink
- How much you drink
- The consequences you have faced when drinking
- Your legal standing (if you have any legal offenses that involve alcohol or intoxication)
- How your life is affected by your drinking
- If you suffer from medical or cognitive consequences as a result of your drinking habit.
- An alcoholic cannot hold down a job.
It is a common misconception that an alcoholic is not capable of maintaining things like a career or training and education programs. It actually is possible for a person to be able to perform at work or at school and maintain an alcohol addiction. While each individual case is unique to its circumstances, there are many ways that an alcoholic can maintain a career and an addiction to alcohol.
As stated in the previous sections, a person does not need to be drinking or drunk all day every day to be an alcoholic. Many alcoholics are able to hold down a job by either not drinking during the day, not drinking during the week, or even building a tolerance to alcohol in which he or she is able to perform at a job site. Many alcoholics become very skilled in hiding their own alcohol problem, so it is not uncommon for someone with an alcohol addiction to skirt by unnoticed.
- Alcoholism is not as severe as other drug addictions.
Some people tend to think that since alcohol is legal and other drugs are not, that alcohol itself is not so bad. Following this logic, people tend to think that those who suffer from alcoholism are not as severely affected as people who suffer from other addictions. This is far from the case. In fact, alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs to which you can have an addiction. Not only are you at risk of overdosing; you can die from withdrawing from alcohol as well. Alcohol is one of only two drugs that you can die from while withdrawing (the other drug class being benzodiazepines).
Alcohol has devastating effects on an alcoholic’s liver, kidneys, brain, and stomach. Many alcoholics suffer from permanent side effects, like:
- Brain damage
- Liver failure
- Memory loss
- Kidney failure
- Delirium tremens
Alcohol is also a major contributing factor to the onset of several mental health disorders, like:
- Alcoholism is a character flaw, not an illness.
Alcoholism is a legitimate and diagnosable mental health disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, alcoholism, alcohol abuse, and addiction are all legitimate mental illnesses that must be properly treated with therapy and sometimes, medical intervention.
Anyone is susceptible to developing an alcohol addiction or alcohol use problem. A person does not need to have character flaws, be sick or suffering, or have a hard time managing stress, to develop an alcohol problem. Anyone has the potential to develop an addiction, and once a person is dependent on alcohol, it is very difficult to quit. An alcoholic will likely suffer from symptoms for the remainder of his or her life. Fortunately, with proper treatment and intervention, it is possible to get sober and learn how to cope with alcoholism.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, please call now (888) 557-8091 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our friendly admissions counselors are available to help, even if it’s just to answer questions.