Myths Friends And Families Of Alcoholics Should Know

GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

Myths Friends And Families Of Alcoholics Should Know

It can be hard to know that a loved one is suffering from alcoholism. It is not uncommon for loved ones of an alcoholic to be confused or mistaken about what alcoholism is and what it does to the person they love.

Families of alcoholics endure a great deal of frustration and heartache. It is a disease that affects everyone in the alcoholic’s life, and it can take a toll on everyone’s health.

If you are struggling with a loved one who is an alcoholic, there are several things that are important to know. The life of an alcoholic is not always as it seems.

There are many myths about alcoholism. It is important to understand what is truth and what is mistaken when dealing with an alcoholic.

Myths About Alcoholism

1. An alcoholic can quit, but just does not want to quit.

An alcoholic rarely ever suffers from only alcoholism. It is not a matter of willpower, and it is not a “cold turkey” fix for most people. Alcoholics will develop alcoholism for one reason, and the addiction may continue for an entirely new reason.

It is physically, mentally and emotionally painful and difficult to quit drinking. Most alcoholics will need professional treatment. Most will relapse at least once before recovering.

2. Alcoholics are weak.

An alcoholic is not a weak person. They are a person in pain. There are several reasons why a person may develop an alcohol addiction. Most alcoholics suffer from anxiety and depression.

An alcoholic does not know how to deal with the pain so they use alcohol to numb it or make it more bearable.

3. Quitting “cold turkey” is the best way to quit drinking.

Alcohol is one of the two only substances that a person can die from during withdrawal. This means that if a person is a severe alcoholic, then they risk death by quitting cold turkey, or without professional care.

Research has found that the “cold turkey” method is typically not effective. Alcoholism often requires years or patience and professional treatment for recovery.

4. The alcoholic will be better once they quit.

Once an alcoholic is sober, they need to learn how to live a sober lifestyle. They will need to learn how to cope with stress, cravings, relationships, boredom, their health and their careers without the use of alcohol.

It is TOUGH to do for an alcoholic. They will struggle, and will need the support of their loved ones.

5. Transitioning to a sober lifestyle is easy.

An addict needs to let go of the only lifestyle they know to learn how to live in a whole new way. There will be people, places and things (that they used to enjoy) that they now need to avoid. There will be relationships they need to walk away from, and there will be many times when they will need support and guidance.

6. They are not an alcoholic if they do not drink every day.

A person is considered an alcoholic if their drinking habit significantly affects their quality of life.

If the drinker cannot cope with stress, have fun, or socialize without drinking, they are likely suffering from alcoholism.

If they are not able to keep up with their responsibilities in their career or personal life because of their drinking, they are likely suffering from alcoholism.

If their drinking is getting them into legal trouble or causing relationships issues, they are likely suffering from alcoholism.

7. If they can hold down a job, they are not an alcoholic.

Many alcoholics can hold down a job. Whether they are under the influence at work or they drink heavily outside of work, their quality of work and ability to keep up with responsibilities while at work does not reflect whether or not they are an alcoholic.

8. Alcoholism is not as serious as other addictions.

Alcoholism is just as serious as other addictions. Drinking too much alcohol can be fatal. Behaviors under the influence of alcohol can be fatal and have devastating consequences on quality of life. Withdrawing from alcohol can be fatal without professional care.

Professionals argue that alcoholism may even be more dangerous than addiction to other types of drugs. This is because of the availability of the drug and the fact that it is socially acceptable and encouraged to drink.

9. Alcoholism only affects the alcoholic.

Alcoholism affects the alcoholic and the friends and family of the alcoholic. Dealing with an alcoholic is mentally, physically and emotionally draining.

10. There is no support for friends and family of alcoholics.

Friends and family of alcoholics are able to receive both private counseling and group counseling for support.

They may also consider community support programs, like Al-anon. Each of these options provide guidance, education and emotional support when learning how to come to terms with a loved one’s alcoholism.

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