Alcohol abuse is a significant issue—about 1.5 million adolescents aged 12–17 have been binge alcohol users. What makes recovery difficult are the many myths that surround alcohol abuse. By understanding what’s true and what’s not, you can help your teen identify if they have this condition, and seek professional help.
People Struggling With Alcohol Abuse Look, Act and Dress in a Certain Way
There’s a stereotypical image of someone who struggles with alcohol abuse, thanks to Hollywood and the media. It’s a person who has little money, and who might even be homeless. They’re usually dirty, drinking out of a brown paper bag and easily angered or violent. The truth is that this certainly does not define everyone who struggles with alcohol abuse. It can affect people of any socioeconomic status, gender, race and age.
Alcohol Abuse Isn’t Really That Dangerous
Some levels of experimentation and risk-taking behavior are expected at this age, as the prefrontal cortex and other regions of the brain involved in impulse control, willpower, and healthy decision-making are not fully developed. When compared to drug abuse, alcohol abuse is sometimes viewed as being relatively harmless. This is false—alcohol abuse definitely has dangers that are important to consider. These health risks include high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and nerve damage.
Everyone Who Abuses Alcohol Experiences Blackouts
“I don’t struggle with alcohol abuse because I don’t blackout!” This is another common misconception. In fact, not everyone with a dependence on alcohol experiences blackouts, memory loss or amnesia. It depends on how alcohol is consumed—chugging beer on an empty stomach, for example, is more likely to cause a blackout.
Recovery Isn’t Possible Until You Hit Rock Bottom
“Rock bottom” is far too vague of a term to hold any truth for someone struggling with alcohol abuse. It also isn’t very hopeful! Recovery truly happens when a person has had enough of their struggles and expresses a desire to heal—a stage which ultimately looks different for everyone.
All It Takes to Recovery is Willpower
Alcohol abuse is much more complicated than lacking the willpower to stop drinking. While recovery does require a desire to get better, that’s not all it takes. In fact, it can require going through a detoxification process, therapy, addressing deeper issues, addiction recovery and support from loved ones. However, with the right professional help, recovery is possible for anyone suffering from alcohol abuse. There is no situation that is too big or too small for successful recovery treatment.