There are many misconceptions about alcohol use in our society. Many people don’t even know that alcohol is considered a drug, or that alcoholism is considered an urgent public health crisis in the United States.
Below, you will find nine of the most common myths about alcohol and the true nature behind each one.
1. Anyone Who Drinks Has Bad Skin
Drinker’s nose is a common condition associated with alcohol use. It’s characterized by a red, bulbous nose, often accompanied by flushed skin in the cheeks and face. The condition typically happens in people who have pre-existing rosacea, a common skin condition that causes flushness in the face.
This leads many people to falsely believe that anyone who drinks has a drinker’s nose (or alcoholic nose), or that anyone with rosacea has an alcohol problem. In reality, this can happen to anyone, and many people who drink don’t have problems with their skin. Additionally, many people who have rosacea do not drink.
2. Being Able to “Hold Your Drink” Is Always a Good Thing
Alcohol tolerance can build with exposure to alcohol and can be a sign of alcohol misuse. Tolerance building means that the more you drink, the more alcohol is needed to make you feel drunk each time. This can lead to serious health consequences over time.
3. Certain Types of Alcohol Are Less Harmful Than Others
Alcohol is always alcohol, no matter what drink it is in. This myth comes from the idea of “hard liquors” being stronger than other drinks. In actuality, hard liquors can contain as much alcohol as any other drink, but in a more concentrated form. In other words, drinking a 12-ounce beer is the same as drinking a 1.5-ounce shot, or 5 ounces of wine.
4. Alcohol Relieves Stress
While you may feel less stressed mentally after having a drink to take the edge off, your body is actually under a lot more physical stress than usual. On top of its normal functioning, it now has to work hard to remove a substance that is slowing down much of its metabolic functions.
Additionally, continued alcohol use can worsen symptoms of anxiety disorders over time. With the increased stress, you might have a drink to calm down again, which begins the cycle of addiction.
5. Alcohol Is Stimulating to the Mind
You may have heard that drinking can make you more creative, but it is actually a central nervous system depressant. This means your brain reacts more slowly while drunk, leading to impaired cognitive abilities, not enhanced abilities.
6. Sobering Up Quickly Is Possible
While the rate at which you become sober varies for everyone based on factors like weight, gender, and genetic factors, there is no method to speed up the detox process. Drinking coffee or taking a cold shower does not remove alcohol from your system at a faster rate.
The best way to safely detox from alcohol is by attending the right rehab center where medical professionals can monitor your progress and provide medications to ease the symptoms of withdrawal gradually.
7. “Blacking Out” Is the Same as “Passing Out”
Passing out due to drinking means losing consciousness. Blacking out from alcohol means the person is conscious but is not retaining memories. They may seem okay, but they are not acting rationally. As a result, their impulse control, judgment, and decision-making skills are significantly impaired during a blackout.
8. Letting a Drunk Person “Sleep it Off” Is a Good Idea
A person who has passed out from alcohol consumption should not be left alone. Their heart rate and blood pressure can lower to dangerous rates, and their breathing can slow and even stop. Vomiting can also occur, which can be dangerous if it blocks their airway. To combat this, any unconscious or semi-unconscious person should be put in the recovery position, placing the person on their side and tilting the head slightly upwards.
9. Alcoholics Drink Every Day
Drinking daily is not the only sign of alcoholism. Binge drinking can be a form of substance abuse. The CDC defines an alcohol binge as consuming 4 or more drinks in one sitting for women, or 5 or more drinks for men. One out of every six U.S. adults reports binging, and it is more common among young people.
Why These Myths Matter
Unlearning these myths about alcohol abuse takes time, but it is vital to everyone, regardless of their own alcohol consumption. Having a better understanding of alcohol use helps people who only drink on occasion be safer when they do drink, lets the people who have substance abuse disorder understand that they deserve support, and allows loved ones to be more empathetic to the needs of those with alcohol issues.