There are plenty of myths about alcoholism. Sometimes non-alcoholics believe them. At other times, alcoholics believe these myths about themselves. Either way, it’s counterproductive and even dangerous to keep these misconceptions. Alcoholism is a disease. It thrives when there’s uncertainty, shame, or dishonesty.
That being said, let’s take a look at the eight most common myths about alcoholism.
1) Alcoholism is just a lack of willpower
It seems so simple. All you have to do is just resist the temptation. Put down the glass or bottle and just don’t drink. Well, if it were that simple then people wouldn’t struggle with alcoholism.
Non-alcoholics may think that you just lack willpower or that you’re too weak. This is not true. It’s dangerous for you to think that way. You may end up viewing yourself as a failure or bad person due to your alcoholism. Over time, this may transform into resentment against yourself. Eventually, you may even come to believe that you don’t deserve happiness or sobriety.
To put it simply: alcoholism is not a lack of willpower. It’s a disease. You can’t just decide to stop having a disease. You have to treat it.
2) Alcoholism is a moral failure
Non-alcoholics may also view your alcohol addiction as a moral failing on your part. This is similar to the myth that alcoholism is due to a lack of willpower.
While it’s true that alcoholics and lying go hand in hand, this is not entirely due to a moral failure. Instead, it’s a symptom of the underlying alcoholism. Sometimes alcoholics lie because they’re ashamed. Other times they lie because they don’t want to stop drinking. They may also lie to cover up the signs of intoxication from friends or loved ones.
Whatever the case may be, their thinking has been negatively impacted by their drinking problem. The underlying disease of alcoholism has caused this alcoholic behavior.
3) All alcoholics are homeless, incarcerated, or poor
Close your eyes and think of the word “alcoholic”. What do you see? Probably someone standing on a street corner and drinking from a bottle in a paper bag. Not every alcoholic fits this stereotype.
There are plenty of alcoholics who have successful careers and families. Like any other disease, alcoholism exists on a spectrum. Some people drink and their entire lives fall apart. Others drink but are still able to hold down a job, family, or social life.
The one thing that’s common amongst all alcoholics is that they suffer because of their drinking. This may not be apparent to an outside observer, but one of the defining symptoms of alcoholism is that it affects the drinker negatively. In other words, it keeps you from living your best life and finding true happiness.
4) I can only start recovery or treatment once I hit rock bottom
Another common misconception is that you have to hit “rock bottom” before you get sober. However, there are recovering alcoholics who had a “high bottom”. This means that they were still negatively affected by their alcoholism, but they never hit the depths of a “rock bottom”.
The fact is you can start recovery any time. There is no magic moment where you suddenly become ready. Instead, it depends entirely on you. You need to be honest and open to the idea of getting sober. There’s a common saying in recovery: “The wheels don’t have to fly off.” This means you can get sober today!
5) I can control my drinking if I switch from hard liquor to beer or wine
This is frequently referred to as “controlled drinking”. If a person has a drinking problem and is showing signs of alcoholism, then they’ll switch to beer or wine. They’ll justify their alcoholic behavior by saying that the problem is hard liquor, not their addiction.
Ultimately, this is just another myth about alcoholism. You can get just as drunk on wine and beer as you can on high-alcohol spirits. The signs of intoxication to the outside observer are exactly the same. The physical and emotional effects are the same too. If you get a DUI, lose your job, or get arrested, it doesn’t matter if you’re drunk on whiskey or wine. All that matters is that you can’t control your drinking and that you need to stop.
6) I’m a functioning alcoholic
While it’s true that some alcoholics function better than others, the notion of a “functioning alcoholic” is pretty inaccurate. Alcoholism leads to all kinds of problems. Some of them are less apparent to the outside observer than others. For instance, living the life of an alcoholic can lead to depression, anxiety, loneliness, and an inability to have meaningful relationships. This can include friendships, romances, and family relationships.
Rather than telling yourself that you’re a functioning alcoholic, ask yourself if you’re truly happy when you’re drinking. Remember, there’s a big difference between feeling “happy” and feeling “relieved”. For an alcoholic, taking a drink is a temporary relief. However, it will not solve any of the underlying problems that they face. Instead, it just puts them on the back-burner as they get worse and worse.
7) I don’t believe in God, so Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) won’t work for me
This is a major hurdle for Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) newcomers. AA members are always talking about “god”. If this concerns you, just remember that “god” really means “higher power”.
The AA program does not require you to believe in any god. Instead, you’re encouraged to think about a higher power that’s specific to you. This allows you “to get out of your own head” and connect with other people in recovery. It also helps you learn to be of service.
8) As soon as I get sober, all my problems will be solved
There’s an old saying in AA:
“Take a drunken horse thief and sober him up. What do you get?”
“A horse thief.”
This may seem old-fashioned since horse thieves don’t really exist anymore. However, the underlying meaning is important.
Getting sober won’t solve all your problems overnight. That’s alcoholic thinking. Instead, quitting alcohol will allow you to effectively address those problems and change your underlying behavior. Continuing with alcohol abuse puts you in a static state—you can’t truly change. You need to be free and clear in order to take the right steps and regain control of your life.
Find Treatment for Your Alcohol Addiction
Denial is a big part of addiction. Ask yourself if you’re using any of these myths to continuously justify your drinking problem. Be honest with yourself and examine your mental and emotional state.
Are you unable to stop drinking? If so, then you’re probably struggling with the disease of alcoholism. You need to seek outside help from compassionate and nonjudgmental professionals. They can show you a better, happier way to live so you can break free from the cycle of alcohol addiction. Contact Bedrock Recovery Center today and learn how you can start working your way back to a sober life right away!