April Fool’s Day is barely in our rare view mirror and it is likely that few were able to escape the many mistruths that were told. However, when it comes to alcohol and its consumption, there are many myths that must be laid to rest for good.
April is National Alcohol Awareness Month and this year’s theme, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), who serves as the month’s sponsor, is “Help for Today. Hope For Tomorrow.” The month is designed to enhance public awareness and reduce the stigma that alcoholism is a moral weakness, not a disease which, all too often, prevents those battling it from seeking the help they need to recover.
This Alcohol Awareness Month, in an effort to provide the public accurate information about alcohol and alcoholism, LiveFree! Coalition, a local alliance promoting awareness about the harmful effects of underage drinking, drug and other substance abuse among youth and young adults, is combatting this and other common misperceptions.
Myth: Alcoholism is not a disease.
Truth: Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease that can be fatal if untreated. The disease of alcoholism is treatable and is one from which people can and do recover.
Myth: Alcohol kills brain cells.
Truth: Alcohol can impair your thinking, but does not permanently destroy brain cells. It damages dendrites, which send messages from your brain to your body and trigger motor responses. Persistent alcohol abuse can result in lasting defects. Overuse of alcohol can also lead to memory lapses and problems with coordination.
Myth: Beer is safer to drink than hard alcohol because it has lower alcohol content
Truth: One 12-ounce can of beer, one 4-ounce glass of wine or one standard mixed drink all contain the same amount of alcohol. So, keep this in mind before you grab your car keys after a few beers.
Myth: Everyone reacts to alcohol in the same way.
Truth: Many factors affect a person’s reaction to alcohol, including weight, metabolism, gender, age, etc.
Myth: All alcoholics are homeless and living on the street.
Truth: It is estimated that close to 20 percent of alcoholics are highly functional and well-educated and earn good incomes.
Myth: All alcoholics need is will power to stop drinking.
Truth: Alcoholism is an illness and no one can recover from an illness by just telling themselves to stop being sick. Treatment is a necessity.
Myth: No one in my family suffers from alcoholism so it won’t affect me.
Truth: While genetic predisposition can increase your risk, there are many other risk factors that can affect those without a family history, including: psychological state, social interactions, emotional make up, age and gender.
“Alcohol Awareness Month serves as a great opportunity to combat the common mistruths we hear on a regular basis and, more importantly, encourage members of our community to drink responsibly and seek help when they need it,” said Jackie Griffin, executive director of LiveFree!.