Alcohol addiction is the most common type of addiction in our country, and more people fall victim to it every single day. In a culture where alcohol abuse is viewed as acceptable, and even fun, it’s easy for teens and young adults to fall into drinking and quickly find themselves in over their heads. Advertising, music, movies, and television are all full of messages about alcohol, and most of them are not accurate. This in turn paints society’s perception of this drug in a false light, which adds to the danger for becoming addicted. Here are some of the messages we receive on a daily basis about alcohol, and how they miss the mark:
Drinking is Part of Daily Life
In the movies, on TV, and even in some commercials, it seems like there’s always someone with a drink in their hand. Drinking to relieve stress is depicted as normal and healthy, even humorous in many cases. The truth is that only about 30% of Americans drink alcohol on a weekly basis, with most drinking less frequently. Feeling the need to have a drink every day in order to wind down, or needing to drink in order to socialize, are actually signs of addition.
Teen Drinking is Okay
There are so many movies geared towards teens that feature drinking as part of regular teen activities. In these movies, teens attend parties where alcohol is a mainstay and parents are nowhere to be found. Teen drinking is seen as fun and harmless from this angle, but this is very far from the truth. Teen drinking leads to more drunk driving accidents and deaths than in any other age group. Drinking before the age of 21 is a huge indicator of whether or not addiction will develop, and the younger you are when you start drinking, the more likely it is that you will become addicted.
Alcohol is Not Dangerous
Because alcohol is a legal drug, and is marketed right out in the open, it is often thought of as harmless or less dangerous than other drugs. These billboards, signs and commercials are misleading, because alcohol carries side effects that are just as dangerous as those associated with other drugs. More people suffer from alcoholism than from any other type of addiction, so the consequences of abusing alcohol are every bit as dangerous as other drugs.
Drinking is Part of Growing Up
We’ve seen the scenario a thousand times in the movies: A father sits on the front porch with his early teenage son, and offers him his first beer as he congratulates him on a job well done. The idea that drinking is some sort of rite of passage, or an indicator of a person’s maturity is based on false pretenses. No matter how mature a person is emotionally, underage drinking is very dangerous physically, and can quickly lead to addiction. There are healthier ways to celebrate accomplishments and strengthen family bonds.
Kris is a Advanced Substance Use Disorder Counselor and has been working in the field of substance abuse since 1996. Kris is the Program Director for Renaissance Ranch. Kris’s passion for and commitment to assisting people in their healing and recovery is a great joy for her.