Alcoholism is a common problem in the United States. Each year, approximately 80,000 people die from alcohol-related causes. Alcohol abuse cost the U.S. nearly $250 billion in 2010 alone, and alcohol-related liver disease is the cause of about one third of all liver transplants.
But as prevalent and destructive as alcoholism and alcohol abuse are, many people still have some misconceptions about this problem. Knowledge is power, so read on for some clarification regarding these common misconceptions.
1. Alcoholism Is Mostly a Men's Problem
Many people assume that alcoholism in women is a rare problem or that it is not a serious one. This is a dangerous misconception since it means alcohol abuse in women often goes overlooked, even by close friends and family members.
It is true that alcoholism is more common in men than in women, but by no means is alcoholism rare in the female population. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, conducted in 2015, about 5.3 million American women and 9.8 million men had alcohol use disorder. Women tend to develop problems with alcohol later in life than do men, but there are no certainties. Women of any age can and do begin abusing alcohol.
2. If You're Able to Work, You Don't Have a Problem With Alcohol
You may have an image in your mind of an alcoholic being someone who barely gets out of bed in the morning, rarely showers and can't hold down a job. Surely, there are alcoholics who fit this mold. However, many people who abuse alcohol are able to hold down a job and otherwise navigate life. These people are often known as functional alcoholics.
Functional alcoholics often use alcohol to cope with stress. They may drink alcohol in every situation, drink on their own, and drink increasing amounts as their tolerance grows. Even though they may still be able to work, their alcoholism will still lead to health problems down the road, and there may come a time when it does start to seriously impact their work and family life. Functional alcoholism is still a disease and demands treatment.
3. Alcoholics Are Always Drunk and Drink Every Day
Just because someone does not drink every day does not mean they don't have a problem with alcohol. Stage One alcohol abuse usually involves occasional alcohol abuse and binge drinking. Even those in Stage Two alcohol abuse tend to use alcohol as a coping mechanism and may only drink when certain situations arise. The problem is not necessarily the frequency at which someone drinks, but the lack of control they have over their drinking.
4. College Students Cannot Be Alcoholics
Alcohol abuse has become such a problem on college campuses that some have begun looking the other way completely. College students themselves often perpetuate the myth that heavy alcohol use is just a part of college - so they can't possibly be alcoholics just for engaging in that culture.
But while some students are able to drink from time to time without losing control or suffering any serious consequences, this is not true for everyone. Studies indicate that about 20 percent of college students meet the diagnosis criteria for alcohol use disorder. Since those who abuse alcohol in college often continue to do so later in life, it's important to identify and treat these students
Alcohol abuse can affect anyone of any age and in any occupation. Thankfully, there are many effective ways to deal with addiction, from therapy to prescription medications. If you or someone you love has a problem with alcohol, contact Rehabilitation Care Group to learn more about our substance abuse treatment programs.