Alcohol and Drug Abuse: Five Myths

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Alcohol and drug abuse alters an individual’s behavior and thought process.  Substance abusers may want to seek treatment, but are unable to reach out for help because of the chemical and physical addiction in their body.  Those in the addiction treatment field hear a lot of myths about alcohol and drug abuse.   Let’s walk through the common myths.

Common Myths About Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Myth #1: I can stop using anytime I want to.

Unfortunately individuals suffering from alcohol and drug abuse often cannot stop. Whether an individual can or cannot stop using drugs or alcohol, this myth enables the user to keep using.  It is a defense mechanism that makes us feel in control, even when we are not.  Alcohol and drug abuse continues until an individual recognizes that they are unable to stop and seeks help.

Myth #2: I don’t use every day, so I can’t be addicted.

Substance abuse is NOT defined by what you use or when you use it.  It’s not even defined by how much you use.  Remember, it is the qualitative effects or consequences of your use that indicate a problem.  Whether you smoke marijuana or use heroin, drink beer or hard liquor, if your substance use is causing problems or affecting your life, it is a problem.  If you are making choices based on your drug or alcohol use or choosing friends based on your use you may have a problem.

Myth #3: The substances I use, like alcohol or marijuana are not addictive.  

Alcohol and drug abuse is not defined by what you use. Every substance makes changes to your brain and your body. Long-term alcohol and drug abuse can have significant effects on your life.  It can destroy your health, your professional life, and your relationships.   Marijuana and alcohol are addictive and you can go through physical withdrawal just like any other addict.

Myth #4: I’m not an addict because I have a day job and I’m doing okay.

More often addicts and substance abusers are not bums or people living on the streets.  Many substance abusers can maintain a job, get their degree and provide for their families and friends.  Many are parents, spouses, children or grandparents.  Even so called high-functioning substance abusers are still a danger to themselves and others.  The side effects of alcohol and drug abuse will catch up with you eventually and the damage to your health happens without outward signs.

Myth #5: My alcohol and drug abuse is my problem, not yours.

The decision to stop using or quit drinking is up to the individual, but the consequences and effects of substance abuse are far reaching.  Substance abuse affects all of those around you, your friends, family and loved ones.  Unfortunately substance abuse is not an individual problem and your choices impact others.

It may be difficult to accept that you or someone you love is suffering from substance abuse, but educating yourself on addiction, drug abuse and alcohol abuse and recognizing what is and is not true is an important step in helping yourself or others.