Many of us know an uncle or cousin, or even an immediate family member, who had a “problem” with alcohol or other drug(s). As a psychologist, I have heard many opinions about why people have drug addictions and what should (or could) be done about it: Aunt Marge has a “weak” constitution and cannot control herself; Cousin Vern drinks too much, he is an alcoholic, or a lazy “good-for-nothing” loser. As we’ve written about previously, opinions and perceptions are important for interpersonal interactions. Perceptions of a partner’s drinking (or drug use, if you extend the logic) impacts relationship quality: if you believe your partner drinks (or uses) too much, then this perception could lead to dissatisfaction with your relationship with that person.
What contributes to these perceptions? What most people “know” about addiction is oftentimes based on personal experience or opinion, not on research.