If you ask the average person to tell you what they know about alcoholism, chances are they believe at least a few things that are false. There are many myths surrounding alcoholism, and some of them cause people to avoid getting the help they need. Here are some of the most common myths about alcoholics and alcoholism:
Myth: An alcoholic is a skid row bum.
This is probably the most common myth, and it’s far from the truth. There are alcoholics in all races, ages, social classes and both genders. Many alcoholics continue to hold responsible jobs, such as that of teachers, ministers, lawyers and even doctors. Skid row bums are a very small percentage of people who suffer from alcoholism.
Myth: People who drink too much could stop or cut back if they really they wanted to.
If a person is an alcoholic, he or she is physically and psychologically addicted to the drug alcohol. They have crossed a line and are no longer able to stop drinking or control the amount of alcohol consumed.
Myth: Alcoholics don’t care who they hurt.
Many alcoholics are very aware that their behavior is hurting their loved ones but they are unable to control it. Wishing they could stop drinking and stop hurting those they love and being able to stop are two different things.
Myth: A person who drinks only beer isn’t an alcoholic.
Many people believe that in order to be an alcoholic, you have to consume hard liquor. This isn’t true. Alcoholism depends on what alcohol does to you, regardless of what you are drinking or how much. You can be an alcoholic even if you drink only beer or wine.
Myth: A person who doesn’t drink every day isn’t an alcoholic.
Alcoholism affects people in many ways. While some alcoholics drink every day, others drink only on weekends, or binge sporadically. Drinking daily is not a requirement for being considered an alcoholic.
Myth: An alcoholic can’t recover unless he or she hits bottom.
The problem with this statement is that people who hear it believe that they don’t need to quit drinking if their family is still intact, they still have a job and have developed no major health problems. The more they continue to drink, the more problems they develop. It isn’t necessary to wait until you lose everything to ask for help.
Myth: When alcoholics quit drinking, their problems are over.
Many people believe that an alcoholic just needs to stop drinking. But in most cases, alcohol abuse is a sign of deeper problems. Recovery from alcoholism involves much more than just not drinking. It involves learning new coping skills and a whole new approach to life. This may take some time. The problems that led an alcoholic to drink heavily are probably still there, and the alcoholic needs to learn how to handle similar problems without drinking.
Myth: If you don’t drink, you won’t fit in and you will lead a boring life.
Alcohol is so socially acceptable that if you have developed a problem with it, you may think that giving up drinking means you will never fit in again. Although you may decide to avoid socializing with people whose lives seem to revolve around alcohol, there are plenty of enjoyable things you will be able to do sober, and you will find that life is far from boring.
Myth: Being an alcoholic is not that bad.
Even if you know deep down that you are an alcoholic, you may be reluctant to give up drinking because you believe that being an alcoholic is really not that bad. You’re using a chemical that is socially acceptable and legal, and you may believe you aren’t hurting anyone but yourself. But heavy drinking can lead to devastating consequences. It can destroy your relationships, your job and your health and can lead to horrifying consequences that can’t be undone. Getting past these myths and recognizing that you may have a problem with alcohol is the first step toward recovery. Talk to a doctor or counselor. Alcohol doesn’t need to continue to ruin your life.