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5 Common Myths About Alcoholism

5 Common Myths About Alcoholism

Alcoholics have enjoyed a lot of representation in the media. From characters in novels dating back hundreds and hundreds of years right the way up to the dashing, damaged Don Draper in Mad Men, we’ve been fascinated with alcoholism in a morbid kind of way for longer than any of us can remember.

However, despite the prevalence of the issue in fictional (and real-life) stories we tell, there are nonetheless a number of mistruths that are regularly touted about the condition. In today’s article we’ll be attempting to clear up some of the 5 most common myths about alcohol addiction, so that hopefully by the end you’ll have a more clear idea of what the problem is and what it isn’t, making it easier for you to get you or one or your loved ones help with their drinking problem.

Close up of three glasses filled with alcohol

1: Alcohol Affects Everybody The Same

This is probably the single most prevalent alcohol addiction myth. How many times have you heard somebody mention that being drunk is a pretty universal experience? There seems to be a tacit acknowledgement a lot of the time that people who use alcohol to excess will all experience the same symptoms, like crying, being rowdy, forgetting things, vomiting, and ultimately passing out.

In reality, alcohol is an incredibly idiosyncratic drug that everybody handles in their own unique way. For some people they’ll want to dance; others will become withdrawn, while still others will become aggressive and difficult to deal with.

2: Beer Won’t Get You As Drunk As Spirits

Another common myth about alcohol addiction is that beer is somehow less hard or safer than spirits. This starts from a reasonably logical position, which is that beer has a much lower ABV percentage than other drinks. That’s where the differences end, though — as with anything alcoholic, it’s all about how much you consume, not what it is you’re consuming.

Just because three beers won’t get you anywhere near as intoxicated as three double shots, that doesn’t mean that you’re able to drink beer to excess indiscriminately and be completely free from getting blackout drunk. As a matter of fact, this particular alcohol addiction myth can often lead to people drinking way too much beer, labouring under the false impression that beer won’t get you drunk. It all comes down to how much alcohol is entering your body’s bloodstream. Your organs can’t tell the difference between wine, beer, and spirits when it comes to alcohol, and neither can your brain.

3: Different Kinds Of Alcohol Have Their Own Moods

How many times have you heard somebody say that tequila makes them go crazy and party hard, while red wine makes them feel more sophisticated and ready to have a long, serious conversation? This misunderstanding is common across practically all social groups and all ages, but it isn’t rooted in truth at all and is in fact completely incorrect.

Similar to point number 2 above, alcohol is alcohol. It doesn’t matter what you’re drinking — the subtle differences between the way vodka and gin are created won’t make a significant impact on the ‘kind’ of drunk you feel once you’ve had too much of one or the other. In fact, the myth probably perpetuates itself: because people think tequila makes them go wild, drinking tequila is more likely to make them act wild. It’s not because of the tequila, though; it’s because of the state of mind of the person who’s drinking the tequila.

4: Black Coffee and a Shower Will Sober You Up

A large part of the reason for the existence of these myths about alcohol addiction has to do with how we perceive ourselves experiencing alcohol, rather than how alcohol actually interacts with our bodies. The common story about needing a black coffee and a shower in order to become less intoxicated is the perfect example of this — despite the fact that practically everybody who’s ever had a drink knows about it, it doesn’t have anything to do with the facts of the situation.

The only thing that helps you to sober up Is the work your organs do in processing the alcohol you’ve drunk. This includes both your liver and your kidneys. As the alcohol goes through them and they filter and break it down, you’ll become gradually less drunk. There’s no way to get more sober, except by waiting for time to pass and not continuing to drink. Coffee and a shower will likely make you feel better, but they won’t make you less drunk.

A woman passed out on a bar with a glass of alcohol in front of her

5: Drinking Different Drinks Makes You Drunker

‘Beer before liquor, never sicker. Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.’ You’ve heard some variation of that phrase, haven’t you? There are different versions to be found all over the world, depending on different cultures and languages, but the core idea remains the same, namely: mixing kinds of alcoholic drinks will have an effect on the level of intoxication of the drinker experiences.

As it happens, this turns out to be another myth about alcohol addiction. Drinking beer, wine, and spirits all in the same night won’t contribute to making you drunker than the same amount of alcohol would on its own. Even though the different tastes and sizes of the drink can make it seem like they’re making you more intoxicated, the truth is that mixing different kinds of alcohol together in the same drinking session won’t have any more of a negative effect than those drinks would on their own.


As you can see, there are a ton of myths out there about alcoholism which are widely disseminated by people who assume them to be true. This article really only reaches the tip of the iceberg — we’ve decided to focus on five of the most popular myths about alcohol addiction rather than attempt to list every single one. Do you know about a myth that is widely believed but has no basis in reality, or do you have something to share about different alcohol rehab experiences? Let us know in the comments below the article.


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