While there is still a long way to go in understanding addiction and the factors that drive it, we have come a long way since the days of believing that addiction is some kind of moral failing. Today, addiction is slowly being recognized as a legitimate medical condition that needs to be treated similarly to all other medical conditions. That being said, while the medical community may have a better understanding of addiction and the necessary treatments and therapies, the understanding of the general public lags far behind. Some of this is due to the prevalence of certain stereotypes that seem to stubbornly persist. Alcoholics are often thought of as being older, generally poor and either barely clinging to a job or possibly even homeless and jobless.
The reality is, however, that alcoholics can be almost any age and in many cases they can hold high-ranking jobs or positions and function at a level that makes it very difficult to recognize them as alcoholics. While cultural images abound of interventions in which the family and friends of an addict or alcoholic see the addiction for what it is before the addict or alcoholic does, it is also quite common for those around an alcoholic to be genuinely and legitimately shocked when an alcoholic finally faces and acknowledges their own addiction. What seems to be perhaps hardest of all for the general public to believe is that an alcoholic may also be a rising football star, the class valedictorian or even a childhood chess prodigy. Contrary to popular belief and opinion, teens and young adults can absolutely be alcoholics.
What Does Alcoholism Look Like?
When most people think of an alcoholic they think of someone that is chronically and visibly drunk all the time. In reality, many alcoholics simply rely on consistent, small doses of alcohol to simply “smooth them out” and help them function. Rather than being chronically and visibly drunk all the time, they often move through life more in a constant, mild alcohol-induced fog. In other cases, alcoholics may go days or even sometimes weeks without a drink but then may go on a weekend or days-long “bender” in which they may consume so much alcohol in a short period of time that they black out or completely lose track of time or reality. None of these behaviors are limited to adults, either. Teens as young as fourteen or fifteen and sometimes as young as eleven or twelve can start to develop the chronic habits which define an alcoholic. The good news about this, however, is that the less time these habit have to develop, the easier they are to replace with better habits, patterns and coping strategies.
Perhaps one of the most misunderstood aspects of alcoholism is that over time it becomes as much a habit than anything else and it is these habits that can be the hardest to break. In addition, the more an alcoholic uses alcohol to get themselves through certain situations, the more they begin to believe they would be unable to make it through the same situations without alcohol. These beliefs also become deeply ingrained over time, which means the longer alcoholic habits and patterns go undetected and untreated, the harder it becomes to address them and to build new habits. This is why it is so important to get treatment as quickly as possible. Conversely, however, the younger a person is who has a drinking problem, the less willing those around them generally are to call it alcoholism. In reality however, the faster a young person gets treatment, the more likely they are to be able to build new habits, patterns and coping strategies that can help them successfully avoid developing the ingrained habits that lead to chronic alcoholism.
If you or someone you know struggles with alcohol, today is the day to reach out and get help. Overcoming addiction is a long process that always starts with simply gathering information. If you aren’t sure you or someone you know is an alcoholic, today is the day to reach out and talk to someone experienced with addiction and addiction issues that can help you determine whether you or your loved ones needs help of some kind. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day, so please call us today at 833-610-1174 and let us help you get the help you need.