Lifeline Connections

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Despite its potential dangers, alcohol is one of the most widely accepted and used drugs in the Western world. Many people are unaware that despite its legalization, alcohol is still a drug. Its common usage plays into Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) being the most common substance use disorder, with over 15 million Americans having a diagnosis.

There are many terms used to indicate when someone has a problem with alcohol; the two most common terms are Alcoholism and Alcohol Use Disorder. Alcoholism is the colloquial term used to generically speculate if someone has an alcohol problem and is synonymous with alcohol dependence. Alcohol dependence is part of the diagnosis for Alcohol Use Disorder, but does not completely embody the definition for the disorder as defined in the DSM-V. Despite the prevalence of general alcohol use, there are still many existing misconceptions surrounding it.

Myth #1: Inebriated people have no control over their actions.
Many people have beliefs of how alcohol changes and affects people; they think that it will make them more confident, funny, or aggressive. Studies have shown that it is what people expect to feel when they drink that really affects their behavior instead of the alcohol itself. Alcohol can still have physiological and emotional effects; it is a depressant which means that it lowers our inhibitions.

Myth #2: It is easy to sober up.
Many people believe that if they wanted to they would be able to sober up by drinking coffee or taking a cold shower. However, alcohol will  stay in your system for at least two hours after consumption no matter what you do; this can even change from person to person depending your weight. The difference in weight between males and females means that females need fewer drinks to reach the same effect of alcohol as men.

Myth #3: AUD occurs out of a weakness of willpower.
This goes along with the idea that people with drug problems would easily be able to stop consumption if they had the will to do so. There are many reasons that someone might develop AUD, and it is not always in the control of the individual. Some people might be at more risk due to genetics, underlying mental health problems, age, and drinking frequency. Alcohol use can disrupt a number of aspects of an individual’s life, including interpersonal relationships, and could appear in the forms of dependence and alcohol abuse. Many people are still able to work, despite the interference of alcohol in their lives, but they fulfill other criteria for AUD like persistent usage despite wanting to stop consumption or consuming alcohol to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

Those who have an underlying mental health disorder like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia are more likely to develop a substance use disorder associated with alcohol; this generally occurs out of a need to self-medicate for underlying problems an individual might be facing instead of getting help. Research has shown that in the brain, AUD and depression are chemically indistinguishable. It is very important that people get help for any mental health problems before a substance use disorder can develop.

If you or someone else is struggling with mental health or a substance use disorder, it is important that they find treatment, so that you can start your path to recovery. Please contact the professional team at Lifeline Connections! You can visit or call 360.397.8246 for more information.

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