Alcoholism and addiction is a difficult problem for many people today, but just because many people struggle with it doesn’t mean that it is well understood. If at any point you’ve asked yourself if you need help for your drinking or found yourself wondering, “Should I see my family doctor about this,” you may want to read about these common misconceptions about addiction.
Myth #1: “Alcoholism isn’t that common, and not too many people deal with this problem.”
In fact, addiction to alcohol is unfortunately fairly common. Almost 13.8 million American adults have problems with drinking; that’s nearly seven percent of all American adults. Of that 13.8 million, 8.1 million suffer from alcoholism. Many people deal with this, and not everyone who has a drinking problem may be what you think of as an alcoholic.
Myth #2: “Drinking isn’t too dangerous, it’s not like anybody is getting hurt.”
Drinking can sometimes be incredibly dangerous, especially when binge-drinking is involved. Even if the alcohol itself doesn’t cause damage, the intoxication can. Emergency room patients admitted for injuries tested positive for alcohol 47% of the time. 35% were still intoxicated, and of that 35%, three-quarters showed signs of alcoholism.
Myth #3: “My family doctor can’t help with a drinking problem, the withdrawal would be too tough to deal with.”
Not all withdrawal is created equal, and the severity of symptoms will vary from person to person. In fact, eighty to ninety percent of all recovering alcoholics will need their withdrawal symptoms monitored and medicated as part of their alcoholism treatment. This myth can be especially dangerous and lead people to not receiving the detox treatment they need. Most alcohol addiction patients don’t receive treatment for their addiction until eight years after they develop the condition.
Myth #4: “If I stop drinking, withdrawal won’t last too long, and I can get over it quickly.”
This myth comes from a misunderstanding of how withdrawal works. Withdrawal actually consists of two phases: “acute withdrawal” and post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS. Acute withdrawal consists of more severe, immediate symptoms and lasts typically between three and five days. However, PAWS usually follows acute withdrawal and has its own set of symptoms. This can last a year or longer after substance use stops.
Alcohol addiction is a serious and dangerous health risk for many Americans today, and breaking these common myths can be the first step in getting help and rehabilitation to people in need.