Alcohol recovery needs the facts about alcoholism, not the myths.
American movies tend to make alcoholism either as glamorous or as ugly as possible. A Star is Born follows an aging rock star who tries to beat his drinking. Last year’s Judy does the same with actress Judy Garland. They’re both sensational and dramatic, but not informative. So what do we know about alcoholism?
Alcohol has more effects than we think.
We’ve already written already about what alcohol addiction (also called “Alcohol Use Disorder” or AUD) does to your brain and your liver, and how you can spot it when it affects your body and your habits. Make sure to read our articles to learn the facts, whether that’s changing brain chemistry, your urges to drink or losing control of your drinking.
We’ll list a few more facts here, along with the popular ideas that obscure them (only to debunk them and explain the harm these myths can do). If you begin your recovery from alcohol addiction, you need facts, not myths.
Myth: Alcoholics are only middle-aged people.
Fact: Younger people also suffer from alcohol addiction.
The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that Americans from ages 12-20 regularly “binge drink” (drink an extremely large amount of alcohol in one sitting). For reference: 1.6% of teenagers (ages 12-17) had Alcohol Use Disorder in 2018, and people aged 12-20 drink about 11% of all alcohol in the USA. You don’t suddenly become addicted after the age of 40. Your dependence on alcohol often happens sooner than that at a gradual, building pace.
Myths: Alcoholics can’t hold jobs.
Fact: Alcohol addiction can happen in a “normal” life.
We expect that alcohol addiction upsets all other parts of our lives, but that’s not always the case. You may still excel at your job. You might still have strong relationships. All this could suggest that you’re what WebMD calls “a high functioning alcoholic” – meaning that you’ve become dependent on alcohol while still juggling the rest of your life. Managing your responsibilities doesn’t negate the fact that you feel the need to drink, or that you can lose control over your drinking. Alcoholism affects everyone, whether white-collar, blue-collar, rich, or poor.
Myth: Alcoholics drink every minute of every day.
Fact: Alcoholism can take hold through periodic, unreasonable drinking.
A common image of someone addicted to alcohol is someone who treats yet another hangover with yet another morning drink. People say, I can’t be an alcoholic because I don’t drink constantly. But alcohol addiction doesn’t come from constant drinking or constantly getting drunk: Alcohol Rehab reports that it comes from reliance on drinking for emotional stability. You can develop that reliance with one binge-drinking session every few days. Dependence is more nuanced than nonstop drinking.
Myth: Alcoholics always hit rock bottom.
Fact: Alcohol addiction doesn’t have to totally ruin your life for you to seek recovery.
This myth makes an extreme definition for the term rock bottom: it assumes you have to lose your loved ones, job and livelihood before you’ll seek recovery. But your addiction doesn’t have to bring you that low for you to take notice. It could happen that you’re confronted by a friend about your drinking. Or that your boss first warns you, rather than outright firing you. Waiting on the “all is lost” realization before you get help might actually lead you to rock bottom. But you don’t have to wait that long.
Myth: Alcoholics get “blackout” drunk every time they drink.
Fact: Alcoholics drink for unhealthy reasons, not for unhealthy results.
This myth is like the incorrect expectation that alcoholics drinking constantly. Safe and Healthy Life explains how alcohol addiction doesn’t only manifests in the results of drinking (of course, it can and often does). Alcohol addiction manifests when you drink enough to become dependent. That dependence doesn’t mean you’ll drink to a blackout drunk every time you drink. It just means that you’ll rely on alcohol to feel stable. That could mean drinking to black out, but it could also mean drinking for a permanent buzz where you remember everything. Alcohol dependence is more than just the result of your drinking.
Keep learning the facts about alcohol addiction and recovery. You can read more about starting your alcohol recovery at In The Rooms – make sure to return next week for Part 2 of our myth-busting facts on alcoholism! We can never explain enough to help anyone who needs the first step toward addiction recovery.
So if you’d like to learn more, join In The Rooms for free today. Attend our online recovery meetings, or read our recovery content. Whatever you do, learn how our community can serve you today!
“Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
“Underage Drinking.” National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
“Common Myths about Alcoholism.” Alcohol Rehab.
“10 of the Most Common Myths About Alcoholism Debunked.” Safe and Healthy Life