Alcoholism is unfortunately a major part of American society. Currently, 40 percent of all hospital beds are used to treat alcoholism or alcoholic-related conditions and symptoms. One of the major issues with alcoholism is the stereotypes that surround it. These typecasts often mask the truth behind who alcoholics are, why they've developed the disease and how they can receive proper treatment.
In the final part of our two-part series, we examine three more myths about alcoholism:
1. Children easily adapt. They can handle my spouse's drinking
This couldn't be further from the truth. Research has linked negative home environments with a wealth of developmental problems for children, which include:
- Behavioral problems
- Poor language development by age three
- Degrading performance in school
- Aggression, apprehension and depression
- Poor cognitive development by the age of three.
Scientists have expounded on these problems by linking home life issues at a young age with cognitive regression as children grow older. For example, if a child is constantly placed into stressful situations, they may then be more likely to develop stress or other chronic diseases later in life.
One in five children live with an alcoholic relative and are at tremendous risk of facing emotional issues later in life. Another thing to consider is that children don't have to live with an alcoholic family member to suffer emotionally or become unstable. Alcoholism runs in families — children who have alcoholic parents are four times more likely to become alcoholics themselves.
2. Alcoholics are only people who drink liquor out of a brown paper bag
Roughly 15 million people in the U.S. are affected by alcohol abuse or dependency each year, 6 percent of which are college students. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States…and is responsible for more than 4,300 annual deaths among underage youth."
As you can see, your typical alcoholic is not someone who sits out on a bench all day with raggedy clothes and drinks a bottle of beer out of a brown paper bag. Yes, there is a statistic that people with a household income under $25,000 are more likely to be alcohol dependent. However, individuals who have a household income over $75,000 are more likely to binge drink. In other words, while they are not considered alcohol dependent, they are very close.
Fairwinds Treatment Center, which specializes in diagnosing addictions and using an integrated dual diagnosis approach to correct an addict's problem, looks beyond stereotypes. Instead, we look at the individual's history, background and long-standing psychological issues that may have gone undetected for years. In solving an addict's issue, it's important not to jump to conclusions based on a person's social status.
3. Addiction is a result of being weak or a failure
Anyone can become addicted to alcohol. It has nothing to do with how mentally or physically strong or weak someone is. Many times, the likelihood a person will become an alcoholic falls on their biological makeup. In 2012 researchers found that the brain releases feel-good endorphins when exposed to alcohol. Heavy drinkers release more endorphins than light drinkers and thus, have the greater chance of getting more pleasure out of drinking. The end result can be alcoholism.
Current medication includes an alcohol abuse drug naltrexone, which blocks the opioid response. However, it's just as important to treat the root problem for a person's behavior so they are less likely to become addicted to prescription drugs and relapse.
Fairwinds Treatment Center, located in Clearwater, Florida dismisses myths so it can figure out the root cause for their patient's self-destructive behavior. Founded by Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Youser, who has over 25 years of experience, Fairwinds uses a combination of proper therapeutic and clinical treatments to diagnose and address the underlying psychological triggers for substance abuse and addition. By tackling these core issues, our team of specialists can more adequately ensure a patient's recovery.