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The Different Challenges of Quitting Alcohol Versus Quitting Drugs

The Different Challenges of Quitting Alcohol Versus Quitting Drugs

While beating any addiction is never an easy task, there are unique challenges for each type or class of drug including alcohol

While breaking an addiction from any substance or poor habit is similar at some level, every addiction also has very distinct problems associated with it, ranging from social or societal to physical. Among these, alcohol has in many ways a unique place among drugs because of its general acceptance in Des Moines. The acceptance of alcohol in our society results in an almost willful ignorance of the pain, sorrow and death that can be the result of an alcohol addiction. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has provided the following statistics about alcohol use and addiction:

  • Eighty-eight thousand deaths are annually attributed to excessive alcohol use.
  • Alcoholism is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation.
  • Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 2.5 million years of potential life lost annually or an average of about 30 years of potential life lost for each death.
  • Up to 40% of all hospital beds in the United States (except for those being used by maternity and intensive care patients) are being used to treat health conditions that are related to alcohol consumption.

Entire social structures are built around the consumption of alcohol, and this is no exaggeration. It can feel almost awkward for an individual to choose not to drink in certain settings in Des Moines. Attending a college or professional football game with a beer in your hand is not only uncommon; it could open a person up to ridicule. It is even more difficult to get through college without a regular binging habit.

This wide acceptance of drinking and even being drunk is furthered though the media. Many television shows include drinking alcohol as a daily event in the lives of the main characters without any indication of an addiction problem. In short, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol is normalized, which creates an enormous problem for the alcoholic because moderate drinking is not a legitimate option for them.

Alcohol Is Very Available and Legal

However, the acceptance of alcohol is not the only somewhat unique challenge for a person battling an addiction. Compare to almost any other drug, with the exception of cigarettes, alcohol is much easier to obtain. A person with a prescription drug habit needs a doctor’s help. A person with a meth habit needs a dealer. A person with an alcohol problem only needs to go to the closest bar, liquor store or convenience store in Des Moines or even call a friend to bum a drink off of them. The ease of availability for alcohol ups the ante, so to speak, for the addiction, because the number of steps required to obtain the drug is so fewer.

One additional component is that alcohol is legal. There are far fewer social stigmas associated with having a little bit of liquor around the house or casually pouring a shot of vodka. This lowers the shame associated with an alcohol addiction.

Addictive Thoughts Can Be Masked as Logic Far Easier

There is also a more insidious risk for a person struggling with an alcohol addiction. The so-called logic sounds something like this, “Since everyone drinks, I should not have to single myself out as a teetotaler. After all, why would the government allow a substance that is hypothetically so dangerous to be on the market, so it cannot actually be that bad? Plus, I am only going to have a couple beers, so there is no shame in that. A drink during the game is normal, and completely legal.”

Unfortunately, this type of logic is how many addicts start. The alcoholic is not like everyone else, and she does need to single herself out. Trusting the government to make a decision based on the health of our country is a long and drawn out argument, one that far exceeds the scope of this article, but suffice it to say that is logic gone astray. Sadly, generally there is no such thing as such a couple beers for the alcoholic, but it could be the start of something long and disturbing instead. Finally, normal and legal don’t mean healthy by any stretch of the imagination.

There Is Always Time to Get Help

A common lie that is accepted by those battling an addiction is that it’s too late. The time to get help has passed and that you are somehow beyond the place where you could ever turn your addiction around and reclaim anything resembling a normal life in Des Moines. In other words, you are stuck in your addiction, forever. This is simply not true.

The best news though is that there is support available. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The admissions counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more about your mental health condition. They can help you find your way.


[1], “Facts About Alcohol,” accessed December 23, 2015.