Addiction takes a powerful hold not only on the addicted person, but on their loved ones and family members. Both the addicted person and their significant others often fight the label of addiction because of the old and highly inaccurate belief that addiction is simply a matter of weak will or moral failing.
In order for someone to get help, they have to first recognize there is a problem. Sometimes it is the pressure from friends and family that finally moves someone to get the help they need. Here are 10 common lies we tell ourselves to minimize an addiction, either our own addiction or that of a family member, which can delay getting treatment.
1. I can quit anytime I want
This is the common claim of alcoholics and addicts. It’s hard to disprove it because if you say, “Then quit,” they will say they don’t feel like it right now, but they could if they wanted to.
2. He is under a lot of stress, so that’s the only reason he’s drinking so much
This is one of the most common excuses for excessive drinking or drug use. It is often accompanied by statements such as, “If I had a better job,” “If my wife didn’t nag me,” “If I wasn’t so financially stressed,” and similar explanations as to why someone “needs” to drink or use drugs.
3. My drug use or drinking is my business; it doesn’t hurt anyone else
Nothing could be further from the truth. The addict is moody, unpredictable, unreliable, and sometimes an embarrassment. They sometimes drive while intoxicated, making it everyone’s business. They put a burden on the health-care system due to the impact addiction has on their body and brain. They can’t possibly be as productive or work or as good a parent as they could without drugs and alcohol affecting their abilities. Drug addiction and alcoholism take an enormous financial toll on society, and a big emotional toll on families.
4. She only drinks on the weekends
Binge drinking is a common form of alcoholism. Unfortunately, it tends to be accompanied by even more denial than you find with daily drinkers. You may have heard the story of the mother who killed herself, some of her children and sibling’s children, as well as another driver and his passenger while driving back from a camping trip intoxicated on alcohol and marijuana. All her family members expressed shock, saying she didn’t really drink that much. There has been a growing trend of young mothers drinking in a way that disguises the problem. They might drink alone during the day, or binge drink to let lose on the weekends. A person does not have to drink every day to have a problem with alcohol that requires treatment.
5. That DUI was unfair – I wasn’t that drunk
DUIs are serious business. When you drive a car under the influence of alcohol or drugs you are not at 100%, regardless of how low the blood alcohol content (BAC) is. You are driving a lethal ton or so of metal. You need to be totally in control. Occasionally a normal drinker makes a mistake and drives after they’ve had one drink, but they did it on an empty stomach, have a low body weight, or just didn’t wait long enough. However, if the BAC is well over the legal limit or if they get a second DUI, it’s no longer just a single case of poor judgment. Normal drinkers get the message after one DUI. The embarrassment and financial cost are enough to deter future incidents. The alcoholic does not have the ability to make good decisions once they drink, and will tend to get more DUIs.
6. The doctor prescribed all those different medications, so they must be fine
Not all doctors prescribe with care, and not all patients are honest with their doctors. Opiates are the most commonly abused prescription drug, along with anti-anxiety and sleeping pills. If you are taking multiple pills that have the effect of suppressing the central nervous system, you are treading dangerous waters. It’s important to look at how many prescriptions the person takes that are classified as a Schedule II, III, or IV controlled substance; taking many different mood-altering drugs is typically very risky and unhealthy behavior. If the person has multiple doctors writing these prescriptions, or goes to different pharmacies to fill them, these should set off warning bells.
7. I don’t drink in the morning, so I can’t be an alcoholic
This is one of those old myths, similar to the I-only-drink-on-weekends myth. When you drink or what time you start really is secondary to how much you drink, how much it affects your behavior and life, and how hard it is to stay abstinent from alcohol.
8. He isn’t that bad; I know people who drink a lot more than that
Comparing how one person drinks to another is a real trap for some people. Everyone has a different metabolism and various factors that influence how they are affected by alcohol. More important, how other people abuse alcohol isn’t really your concern. Your concern should be how alcohol impacts your life. You might say this excuse is akin to saying you’ve only had two heart attacks and you know a guy who’s had four, so you really don’t have heart disease.
9. She has a great job and never calls in sick, so she can’t have a problem
High-functioning alcoholics can get away with abusing substances a lot longer than other people. There are people who just seem able to push through their addiction and maintain an outward appearance of being just fine. Having a good job, lots of money, or great kids does not mean you don’t have an alcohol problem. Examine the areas of your life that could be better if you weren’t under the influence. That’s a more accurate way to assess the situation.
10. I only drink beer and wine, not the hard stuff
Old myths die hard, and this is one of those stories alcoholics tell themselves so they can keep on drinking. If you drink six beers every night, you may as well knock back six shots of whisky. They are equivalent. What you drink is not important, it’s how you drink and the impact it has on you, your life, and your family.