Most of what the average person knows about addiction is rooted in discrimination, myths, and stereotypes. The stigma associated with addiction is more significant than any other medical illness. Many of the myths aren’t just hurtful. They are false and contribute to the shame that prevents women from getting the help they need.
On the other hand, much of the information the public receives about addiction comes from the alcohol industry, promoting myths with glossy magazine advertisements and promises of romance and riches. Movies, music, and media also normalize and promote partying and alcoholic drinking, creating this push and pull between the truth and fantasy.
In this article, I have discuss 8 common myths about addiction and alcohol.
1. Alcohol isn't as harmful as other drugs.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the harmful use of alcohol results in 3.3 million deaths each year. This works out to one person every 10 seconds. Alcohol is also the most damaging drug to the developing fetus, more so than heroin or cocaine.
2. Drinking beer or wine will not make me as drunk as hard alcohol.
Your blood alcohol is what determines how drunk you are. It doesn’t matter what type of alcohol you drink –- a drink is a drink. A glass of wine and a bottle of beer are comparable in calories.
3. A glass or two of red wine is good for me.
Yes, a glass of wine or two can reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. The problem is, most of us underestimate how much we drink, and alcoholics cannot limit their consumption.
4. Addiction? It can’t happen to me!!??
A U.S. study found that one in 10 adults will experience problematic substance use. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health reports that in any given year, one in five Canadians experiences a mental illness or addiction issue.
5. Alcohol treats men and women the same.
False. Although long-term chronic alcoholism ultimately destroys the bodies and minds of both men and women, it treats the genders differently. For one, women get drunk faster than men, and suffer health problems from excess drinking faster, too. Girls are also more likely to use alcohol and other substances to cope with their mental health.
6. Alcohol gives you energy and helps you cope.
It may initially appear this way, but the opposite is the truth. Alcohol is a depressant and sedates the central nervous system, and a false sense of excitement is felt as inhibitions are lost. Drinking to cope is also a downward spiral; when the next day, there are more problems to deal with than the day before due to excess drinking.
7. Alcoholics are easy to identify.
Yes, people who are addicted to drugs are everywhere, but they are NOT easy to identify. The people visible on the street represent only a small percentage. Addiction does not discriminate and affects people from all walks of life.
8. AA is the only way to quit.
For many people, “being in recovery” means being in Alcoholics Anonymous, an abstinence-based 12-step program. Today, there is no one-size-fits-all recovery treatment method, and that recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs is a personal journey with many different pathways.
These are just a few. There are many other myths that exist. Start to pay attention to misinformation that you hear. Become aware how you are being swayed by peers, the media, music, and the alcohol industry.
Before you leave, please let me know in the comments below. “What is a myth about alcohol or addiction that you are aware of? Let’s keep the conversation going.
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