April 1st marks the first day of National Alcohol awareness month. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence sponsors this month to increase awareness, to reduce the stigma associated with Alcohol Use Disorder, and to educate the public on alcohol dependence and the risks of consuming alcohol. Now, you may find yourself asking, what is alcohol use disorder and why is this important to understand?
Well, this disorder is characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse consequences. According to a national survey on drug use and health, roughly 14.1 million adults (18+) had Alcohol Use Disorder in 2019. That survey also estimated around 414,000 adolescents (12-17) had Alcohol Use Disorder that same year. For both adults and adolescents, around 7.2% of the people in both categories received or sought out treatment. Not only do people rarely seek treatment, but this disorder also claims thousands of lives across the US each year - approximately 95,000 people annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the US.
Based on these statistics, we can see why National Alcohol awareness month is so important. So many people are affected by this disorder and National Alcohol Awareness month aims to reduce these statistics by help those in need and to educate the public on alcohol misuse and the risk of dependence.
If you would like to observe National Alcohol Awareness Month, here are a few ways you can do so:
1. Participate in the Alcohol-Free weekend.
- The first weekend in National Alcohol Awareness Month is always dedicated to an alcohol-free weekend. That is, they encourage the public to spend 72 hours without alcohol while monitoring symptoms of withdrawal.
2. Start Conversations
- One of the ways to raise awareness is to talk about Alcohol Use Disorder. We tend to shy away from talking about it, so speak up and start a conversation.
3. Get screened for Alcohol Use Disorder
- If you feel you may have alcohol use disorder, it might help to get screened. That way you know if you need further assessment and need to seek additional services. National Alcohol Screening Day is on April 7th, so go get screened!
If you or someone you know may be in need to talk to someone about Alcohol Use Disorder, need additional support or would like additional resources here are some to check out:
1. Alcohols Anonymous
- AA is a program ran by individuals in recovery from alcohol use disorder. This program teaches you how to get and remain sober long term. Program chapters are located across the United States and are open to recovering alcoholics and their loved ones.
2. Al-Anon and Alateen
- This program is designed for the family and friends of alcoholics. This program is a great resource to learn coping skills. Members provide support and encouragement to help a loved one seek treatment if needed.
3. SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP
- This helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, treatment referral and information service for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
4. For more resources, check out this website: https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/help-links/
Mental Health Counselor Intern