Alcoholism is a chronic disease that can eventually prove lethal if left unaddressed. Alcohol Awareness Month is a public health program formed by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) to reach out and offer education to the public regarding the dangers of alcoholism and problems related to alcohol abuse.
The program first began in 1987, intending to target college-aged students who might be drinking excessively. Since this time, it has become a national movement to garner more attention to the causes and effects of alcohol abuse and how to help individuals, families, and communities deal with alcoholism and its profound, far-reaching consequences.
The objective of Alcohol Awareness Month is to educate the public, raise awareness, encourage individuals to reach out to others with information about alcoholism and recovery options, and help overcome the stigma associated with the chronic and devastating disease of alcoholism.
Alcohol awareness campaigns may be sponsored by various organizations, including health institutions, churches, schools, and colleges, which may offer different activities to communicate the risks of alcohol abuse and addiction and encourage individuals who struggle with alcohol-related problems.
The Impact of Stigma on Alcoholism Recovery
Alcohol is a powerful, highly addictive drug. In our society, drinking is socially acceptable, but some people become physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol and cannot seem to quit using it despite multiple attempts to stop. Some seek and receive help, but many do not. Those who do are still highly vulnerable to relapse, and additional treatment may be needed throughout one’s life.
The stereotypes and stigma surrounding alcoholics often bring to mind a person who is homeless or constantly needing financial support from others. They drink hard liquor out of a brown paper bag or spend time at the bar every night. However, these are extreme examples and not characteristics of all alcoholics. There are many variations and degrees of severity regarding alcoholism, and many individuals can and do live what appears to others as functional lives despite being dependent on alcohol.
The fact is, there is still a stigma attached to being called an alcoholic, which may discourage many people from approaching loved ones for help and support and seeking the professional treatment they need to recover.
A Word on Alcohol-Free Weekend
During the first weekend in April, the public is asked by the NCADD to participate in an alcohol-free weekend and live entirely alcohol-free for 72 hours.
Some individuals may find that trying to make it through a whole weekend without alcohol is much more challenging than they expected. Anyone who experiences unpleasant symptoms during this time or cannot make it through three days without imbibing is urged to reach out to support groups and seek professional treatment.
Raising Awareness of Alcohol and Alcohol Dependence
During Alcohol Awareness Month, individuals can get involved in spreading information about alcohol use and abuse. Taking action to prevent alcoholism can help improve and save lives. Individuals and organizations can use social media to distribute information about Alcohol Awareness Month and alcohol abuse. Persons are encouraged to post on Facebook or Tweet information about how to determine how much drinking is too much and offer tips for drinking in moderation.
If you are a parent, you can start by talking to your own children and stress that drinking alcohol should not be a normal rite of passage or required to fit in with peers, and they do not need to have to drink to have a good time. If you have loved ones that drink excessively or appear to rely on alcohol to socialize or relax, encourage them to talk to a licensed health provider or addiction professional.
The more information individuals have about the potential risks of abusing alcohol and becoming dependent on it, the more they are likely to seek help and support if they need it. The good news is that it is entirely possible to recover from alcoholism and to live happily and healthily without alcohol. It all starts with recognizing and admitting that drinking has gotten out of control.
Prevalence of Alcohol Abuse in the U.S.
Historically, there’s no question that alcohol abuse, especially binge-drinking, has been problematic and widespread among college students. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than half of all full-time college students aged 18-22 reported consuming alcohol in the past month, compared to around 44% of non-collegiate individuals of the same age.
Also, the 2019 NSDUH found that 33% of full-time college students aged 18-22 reported binge drinking in the past month, compared with about 28% of other persons of the same age.
Unfortunately, alcohol abuse risks and detrimental effects reach far beyond young collegiate adults getting drunk at parties, clubs, and bars. According to NSDUH, in 2018, an estimated 14.4 million Americans age 18 and over had an alcohol use disorder.
Across the U.S., more than one-fourth (26%) of individuals age 18+ reported engaging in binge drinking in the past month, which is equal to more than four drinks for females and five drinks for males during a drinking episode. Furthermore, 6.6% reported engaging in heavy alcohol use, roughly defined as binge drinking on at least five days during the previous month.
The Big Picture
Each year, approximately 88,000 individuals will die from alcohol-related causes and alcohol-impaired driving deaths may account for one-third of all driving-related deaths, or nearly 10,000 fatalities. Sadly, these deaths could have been prevented, and alcohol consumption is reported to be the third leading preventable cause of fatality in the U.S.
Problematic alcohol use has also dramatically impacted local, state, and national economies. Costs associated with drinking reached an estimated $249 billion in the United States in 2010, with binge drinking accounting for about three-quarters of this economic responsibility.
And $2 of every $5 was paid out by federal, state, and local governments, meaning all Americans are paying for heavy alcohol use—regardless of whether they are consuming alcohol or not.
These statistics indicate that alcohol abuse continues to be a massive burden on our society, and awareness about alcohol abuse and addiction and its disastrous effects on lives is necessary to protect affected individuals and their families.
Getting Treatment for Alcoholism
Alcoholism can be a lifelong disease, but fortunately, it is very treatable, and you don’t have to go through the recovery process alone. Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery offer specialized rehab programs intended to treat substance abuse issues and all aspects of an individual’s health and emotional wellness, including co-occurring disorders.
Therapeutic options we feature include but are not limited to the following:
- Behavioral therapy
- 12-step group support
- Individual and family counseling
- Substance abuse education
- Health and wellness education
- Relapse prevention
- Art and music therapy
- Mindfulness therapy
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni activities