You Asked, We Answered
Can alcohol, heroin, or other drugs lower inhibitions?
No, pharmacologically, substances do not change the content of our mind’s thoughts. The Freedom Model for Addictions does a fantastic job of covering this topic in detail. Here is a brief excerpt that might help explain some of how we debunk this common recovery society myth:
“We think that drugs and alcohol lower our inhibitions, thus giving us:
- courage to speak our minds
- ability to express our true feelings
- confidence to be bold, daring, and straightforward
- freedom from social anxiety or embarrassment
- ability to be ourselves
- ability to get out of our own heads
- ability to let down our guards and be real
- unleashed creative abilities, and
- freedom from fear.
There are countless ways we can say it and, thus, countless perceived benefits that fit under this umbrella of lowered inhibitions. And the fact is that, if you have grown up within a culture that imbues drugs and alcohol with the power to lower inhibitions, then you can feel all these things while drinking or using drugs. But remember the lesson of drug, set, and setting and the lesson of active placebos (both in chapter 17 of The Freedom Model). To this day, the only credible scientific explanation for how substances lower inhibitions is the sociological one discovered by Heath, MacAndrew, Edgerton, and others—these effects are not the product of substances but rather the product of the license to misbehave. That is, you have grown up learning that you will be held to a different standard of behavior while intoxicated, so you feel empowered to behave differently while intoxicated.
As we said in our discussion of substances’ perceived yet unreal ability to relieve emotional pain, you can go on thinking you need substances for all these wonderful benefits. You can continue to feel these things and think you need substances for these things if you choose to close your mind to the truth. However, if you are a person who feels a desperate need for substances and that need troubles you, then it pays to know the truth. The truth is that substances do not give you any of the courage, social ease, or other forms of lowered inhibitions listed above. Those are cognitive products. They occur as processes of the mind, as matters of belief. You effectively create these effects yourself. You do not need substances to achieve them, and you have already been achieving them on your own yet crediting drugs and alcohol for them.”