There are numerous misconceptions or preconceived ideas about alcoholism and those people struggling with addiction issues. Unfortunately, this can often prevent the people needing help the most from seeking treatment.

In an attempt to break down the walls of misunderstanding, here we spell out the important facts about alcoholism to provide clarification:

1. Alcoholism is much more common than you realize

According to research, alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in America, with around 8% of the adult population combating alcoholism. Despite this surprising statistic, relatively few individuals go on to seek treatment for alcoholism after diagnosis, even though it has been shown to be highly effective and there are more rehab centers in America than ever before.

2. Alcoholism is more common in men than women

According to research, the number of men abusing alcohol is increasing annually, currently at just below 10% of the male adult population. This is said to be due to men being more susceptible to the effects of the dopamine that’s released in the brain when drinking alcohol, flooding the reward center with pleasant sensations.

3. Alcoholism has a genetic component

There is a higher risk of an individual developing alcoholism if there is a family history. However, this can be influenced by different environmental and social factors and often, the children of alcoholics either do not experience triggers to abuse alcohol or choose to buck the trend by abstaining.

4. Withdrawal from alcohol can be fatal

This is a very common misconception about treatment for alcoholism and is probably taken from how detox is portrayed by the media as a dark and physically harrowing experience. Although detoxing from alcohol could never be described as a pleasant experience, if patients are under the medical supervision of staff at an alcohol rehab center, any distressing withdrawal symptoms can be treated as they present themselves.

5. Binge drinking is not necessarily alcoholism

Research undertaken by The Center for Disease Control shows that of those people considered heavy drinkers; just 10% have alcohol dependency. Although this doesn’t imply there’s no issue with heavy drinking as long as it’s just from time-to-time, it does show the extent to which alcohol plays a part in American society.

6. 10% of drinkers consume more than half our alcohol supply

Almost 35% of Americans don’t drink alcohol at all; one-third drink up to one serving per week and the top 10% consume a staggering 74 servings of alcohol each week which equates to more than 10 drinks per day.

7. Alcoholism Is Progressive

Alcoholism isn’t something that develops overnight. When someone has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and turns to drink to self-medicate for stress or anxiety, they can develop alcohol dependence over time.

8. Blacking out and passing out are different

When someone passes out, after a few minutes of recovery time, they start to feel better. When someone blacks out, on the other hand, they are not able to remember events later on because one of the alcohol abuse facts is that it affects short-term memory function.

9. Sometimes, the opposite is also true

Sometimes alcoholics continue drinking because they are only too aware of the shame they feel an remember too much to feel comfortable about their habit. By choosing to drink to forget, these individuals can get caught in a vicious cycle.

10. Alcoholism is expensive

Alcohol abuse and binge drinking cost the US billions of dollars every year, in covering the cost of things like medical costs and the expense to public coffers.

11. There’s also the personal expense to consider

If an individual is a moderate drinker, paying around $6 for five drinks per week, it works out to a cost of $1560 over the course of a year. If someone has a heavy drinking habit, this cost can escalate, causing financial hardship in some cases.

12. The term “alcoholism” means alcohol dependence

There is a difference between someone who is an alcoholic and someone who abuses alcohol. Someone who is dependent will experience cravings and withdrawal, whereas others may be creating personal problems through abusing alcohol and may not have any physical symptoms. However, it is possible for someone who has been abusing alcohol for a prolonged period of time to develop alcoholism.

13. Alcohol and depression don’t mix

Many people with drinking issues use alcohol to self-medicate the symptoms of depression or anxiety. However, because alcohol slows down the central nervous system, symptoms of depression are compounded, making the condition much worse.

14. Alcoholism can kill

Every year, nearly 90,000 Americans die as a consequence of alcoholism or alcohol abuse. This statistic includes around 5,000 youngsters below the age of 21, many of whom wind up in ER because of injuries sustained while intoxicated.

15. Well-meaning attempts to support an alcoholic are not beneficial

These methods include things like making excuses for a loved one’s drinking or even drinking with them so that they don’t feel alone. What this does, in fact, is enable someone to drink without being judged by others, lifting any barriers to them becoming alcohol dependent. Encouraging a loved one to seek professional alcoholism or alcohol abuse help is the best approach to offering support.

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