One of the most significant hallmarks of alcohol abuse is temptation. It’s not just that those with an alcohol use disorder enjoy drinking. They also feel a strong desire to drink, above all other things.
As a rule, people don’t desire bad or harmful things. Unfortunately, this self-preservation aspect leads to several lies that alcohol can tell to further the cycle of abuse that has trapped so many people. The best way to beat the cycle and start the road to recovery with quality addiction treatment is to learn how alcohol lies to you and embrace the truth that those lies can obscure. Here are five lies surrounding alcohol use disorder.
1. You Can Stop Anytime You Want To
This line may be the single most common lie about substance abuse, but it is especially prevalent with alcohol. Because you can consider the desire to drink as a voluntary action, it’s easy to fall into the belief of, “I’m doing this because I want to, so I can stop whenever I want.” However, this is quite far from the truth.
Those with alcohol use disorder can’t simply stop drinking, regardless of their actions or intentions. This inability to stop has nothing to do with desire, your strength of character, or your willpower. In reality, Alcohol use fundamentally changes your brain chemistry. Not only do you adapt to the presence of alcohol until it takes more significant amounts to give you the feelings you desire, but you also develop a craving for it. Your brain makes you believe that you literally cannot live properly without alcohol.
Being able to stop anytime you want is a lie that justifies continued drinking and downplays the adverse effects. But it’s challenging to quit for good without taking the proper steps and using programs designed to support your journey.
2. You Enjoy Yourself More When You’re Drinking
Almost every form of media imaginable has glorified alcohol consumption. Countless jokes exist about the fun of alcoholism. Any drawbacks or consequences of alcohol use disorder are either turned into punchlines or made to seem like positive character traits. This narrative has led to a societal understanding that drinking is a “fun” activity.
This warped view is exacerbated by the fact that multiple social events and occasions are marked by drinking. You’re told you can’t enjoy a sporting event without beer, you can’t enjoy New Year’s without champagne, you can’t enjoy a fancy dinner without wine, and so on.
However, this idea that alcohol enhances your enjoyment of activities is a false narrative. Instead, drinking casts a numb haze around many negative aspects of life, which you can mistake for increased joy. But this haze falls over the positive things, as well, dulling your experience of anything fun.
You enjoy yourself far more when you can be mentally present on the occasion in which you are taking part. Furthermore, you enjoy yourself more when you can adequately remember the events that took place. You cannot discover the joy of life while you are only experiencing it in hazy pieces.
3. You’re Not Hurting Anyone With Your Drinking
Even when there is an acknowledgment of any excesses in alcohol use, the narrative that steps in to blunt the edge of truth is that this excess doesn’t harm anyone. It’s just a few drinks “now and then.”
The truth is that alcohol use disorder can blind you to the pain that excessive drinking can cause the people around you. An inability to be present around others or be there for friends, family, and children can be exceedingly hurtful. And that isn’t mentioning the emotional and physical damage caused by the loosening of inhibitions.
But, perhaps most critically, alcohol use disorder hurts you. Excessive alcohol consumption has some of the most damaging long-term effects your body can experience outside of immediate physical trauma.
4. Alcohol Helps You Relax And Loosen Up
There is a reason that people refer to alcohol as “social lubricant” and “liquid courage.” Due to the haze it casts around negative aspects of life, alcohol can make you less wary of social situations, more willing to step outside of your comfort zone, and even dulls the sensations of pain and discomfort. And there is some truth to the calming effect of alcohol. It is a sedative that depresses the central nervous system, similar to medications like benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Klonopin).
However, as your body becomes more accustomed to alcohol use, you can build a tolerance to the de-stressing effects. As a result, you end up requiring more and more alcohol to “feel good” and “relax.” Drinking can easily replace healthy coping mechanisms in stressful situations.
Worse, alcohol only helps you relax until the effects wear off. A study has shown that prevalent comorbidity exists between anxiety disorders and alcohol use disorder. In addition, you are further at risk of developing general anxiety because of the changes to your neural chemistry caused by alcohol use disorder.
And despite having sedative-like effects, alcohol does not help you sleep better. In fact, it does the exact opposite. In addition, even small amounts of alcohol can have unpleasant effects on your REM sleep cycle.
5. You Don’t Have A Problem
This lie is as much about the stigma and misinformation surrounding alcohol use disorder as it is about alcohol’s effects on your brain. There is so much negativity around the very idea of excessive drinking, and it can warp the perception of what constitutes ‘too much.’ There is a false narrative that excessive alcohol use is only evident in those who experience blackouts, drink every single day, and cannot function in society. This narrative has caused the word ‘addiction’ to be thrown at victims of alcohol use disorder.
The question of “too much” is relative. For some, it’s an entire bottle of wine, while for others, it’s one glass. The hallmark of alcohol use disorder is an inability to stop due to a belief that you need the substance to live. Amount and frequency of use are not the determining factors.
This lie may be one of the more insidious roadblocks to understanding how alcohol lies to you and getting help. Comparing yourself to the false narrative and determining that you aren’t “as bad” can be highly detrimental to any attempt to quit. Doing whatever you can to avoid the stigma of being labeled an “addict” will cause you to hide your alcohol use disorder behind a veil of falsehoods about the effects it has on you and those around you.
Get Alcohol Rehab Help in Orange County
For this reason, we offer a faith-based alcohol addiction treatment program that emphasizes compassion and understanding. At Covenant Hills, we believe in you, and our caring staff will provide you with the most comprehensive and effective addiction treatment in Orange County. Contact us for a free and confidential assessment.