If you don’t know the signs of a disease you can pretend you don’t have it. As a society we do a lot of pretending about drugs and alcohol. Regardless of anything you may have learned alcohol is just as much a drug as any other chemical.
How it affects you depends on the relationship you develop with this powerful drug we call alcohol. Millions of people are on the road to alcoholism and don’t even know it. Some are already there despite their best efforts to pretend otherwise.
Here are some common myths about alcoholism.
1. Alcoholics are homeless bums
The majority of all alcoholics, by some estimates up to 90%, have full-time jobs. It is only the most debilitated that end up homeless. Most have suffered for years before they reach the homeless point.
Alcoholics come from every economic strata, race and religion. Even groups that forbid their members to drink still have alcoholics among their ranks.
2. Alcoholics drink every day.
If you only drink once a year on New Year’s but you have gotten DUI’s several times or arrested for bar fights, then you are drinking alcoholically.
It is not how often you drink, but what happens when you drink that determines alcoholic drinking. Alcoholics do not drink one or two drinks; they drink with the intention to get drunk.
Periodic episodic binge drinking is more likely to lead to alcoholism than the person who has one every day.
3. You will not become an alcoholic if you only drink beer.
The majority (54% by one estimate) of the alcohol consumed in America comes from beer. Beer drinkers get just as many DUI’s and are involved in lots of fights and domestic violence. If when you drink, you get in trouble, that is drinking alcoholically regardless of what you are drinking.
4. You need to drink for years to develop alcoholism.
Many chronic alcoholics will tell you that the first or second time they drank they became drunk and many blacked out. If you like the effects of the alcohol you can begin to drink alcoholically from the very first time.
The amount of damage done to the body is largely dependent on how high the level of alcohol in the blood stream goes. You can die from an overdose of alcohol the first time you drink if you consume too much too quickly.
5. One drink a day won’t hurt you.
That may be true for some people but the very young and the elderly are at risk from even that much. More than 4 drinks a week can impair health in older adults and alcoholism in the elderly is growing at a rapid rate.
More than half of all the emergency room admissions among senior citizens are the direct result of being under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Alcohol does not mix well with many prescription drugs that are routinely prescribed for the elderly.
6. Alcohol is a stimulant and gives you more energy.
Alcohol is a depressant. Use of alcohol has been linked to depression and other mental illnesses. Binge drinkers are 55 times more likely to attempt suicide.
While alcohol does not give you energy, make you look better or improve your sex performance what it does do is lower your inhibitions and get you to do thinks that you would never do sober. For every one thing positive that someone reports having done as a result of drinking we hear countless stories of people who committed crimes or were the victim of a crime as a direct result of forgetting to pay attention to what they were doing while they were intoxicated.
The majority of people in prison were drunk or high in the 24 hours before they committed the crime that sent them to prison.
Many who are arrested for being under the influence of drugs have alcohol in the bloodstream at the time of arrest. It is very common for those dying of drug overdoses to also have alcohol in their blood stream. Being intoxicated can impair judgment and lead to a drug overdose.
As much as alcohol consumption is glamorized in our society there are surly many more myths about the risks and benefits of drinking alcohol. What other myths have you found about alcohol?
For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page . For information about my other writing work beyond this blog there is also a Facebook authors page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com .