Stereotypes About Alcoholism
It has long been evident that negative stigmas associated with addiction discourage many from seeking proper treatment out of fear, shame, or embarrassment. Those struggling with substance abuse want to avoid being seen as an addict, and therefore try to hide their addiction or treat it on their own. Alcoholism is unique in that the strong stereotypes surrounding it often ENABLE alcoholics to deny their condition. Because stereotypes of alcoholics are so exaggerated within popular culture, it is easy for alcoholics to use these stereotypes as a means for comparison and evidence that they are actually NOT an alcoholic.
Some common stereotypes of alcoholics include:
- Homelessness, poverty, or general unkempt appearance.
- Drinking daily.
- Drinking out of a brown paper bag.
- Periods of blackout and memory loss.
- Drinking only liquor, never beer or wine.
- Abusive background.
- Family history of alcoholism.
- Can’t have a successful career.
- Continuous legal trouble including DUI or public intoxication.
How are these stereotypes dangerous? These stereotypes make it extremely easy for an alcoholic to justify their drinking habits by saying “well I have a job, so I can’t be an alcoholic,” or “I only drink beer, and alcoholics drink liquor, so I am not one.” Alcoholics come from all backgrounds, socioeconomic classes, and education levels. Simply because someone is a CEO who drinks top-shelf liquor, rather than a homeless war veteran drinking bargain whiskey, does NOT exclude them from becoming an alcoholic. Many high-functioning alcoholics possess a superiority complex that makes it nearly impossible for them to acknowledge their condition. They feel that because they have a good job, live in a nice home, and come from a good family, that they couldn’t possibly be an alcoholic, even though their drinking habits speak differently.
When it comes to alcoholism, it is important to avoid looking for “red flags” or other indicators rooted in stereotypes, and look rather at the individual and their relationship with alcohol. How do they behave when drinking? How do they behave when they CAN’T have a drink? Alcohol addiction is classified as having a physical or psychological dependency on alcohol, and the way alcoholism manifests itself can vary from case to case.
Some common signs of alcoholism include:
- Lying about or hiding your drinking
- Drinking as a means of self-medication
- Being unable to stop drinking once you have begun
- Developing an increased tolerance for alcohol
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
If you or a loved one are struggling with alcoholism, the dedicated staff at A New Start, Inc. is here. Our experienced team of addiction professionals provides support and treatment for those seeking help with alcohol addiction recovery at our intensive outpatient addiction treatment center. For more information about our IOP for alcohol addiction in West Palm Beach, please call 1-844-TALK-ANS.