Alcohol use is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States. In 2019, approximately 14.5 million Americans met the criteria for an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)1. To help raise awareness and the risks associated with alcohol use and abuse, The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) established Alcohol Awareness Month in 1987.
The goal of Alcohol Awareness Month is to educate the public on alcohol related health risks, including the potential development of an alcohol use disorder. Alcoholism is a major public health issue which is both preventable and treatable. This campaign also works to reduce the stigma associated with alcoholism and provide increased visibility of resources available to those struggling with an alcohol use disorder.
Fast Facts on Alcohol
Alcohol is the most widely used and abused substance in the United States. Its legality, accessibility, and acceptability have resulted in frequent consumption, widespread binge alcohol use, and millions of dollars spent combatting alcohol related issues. Here are some eye-opening statistics that highlight our unhealthy relationship with alcohol2:
- Approximately 95,000 lives are lost per year, due to alcohol-related causes, making alcohol the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
- Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities for 10,412 deaths in 2019.
- Alcohol misuse cost the United States $249 Billion in 2010, with ¾ of the total cost being related to binge drinking.
- In 2020, 50% of people aged 12 or older reported using alcohol, with 44.4% of those individuals being classified as binge-drinkers and another 12.8% being classified as heavy drinkers3.
- In 2020, approximately 28.3 million people aged 12 and older met the criteria for an Alcohol Use Disorder3.
Alcohol Awareness Month 2022 offers an opportunity to reconsider our relationship with alcohol. Despite mounting research and growing awareness surrounding the risks associated with alcohol abuse and alcoholism, a stigma still persists. Shattering stigma and increasing access to life-saving resources can only happen through community involvement. Anyone can participate in Alcohol Awareness Month and everyone can benefit from learning more about alcohol abuse and dependence. Below are a few ways to observe Alcohol Awareness Month this year.
A Weekend with No Alcohol
During the first weekend of April, the public is encouraged to participate in Alcohol-Free Weekend. Those who choose to participate are asked to spend 72 hours completely alcohol free.
Some people may find that trying to go 72 hours without alcohol is much more difficult than expected. Anyone who experiences uncomfortable symptoms during this time or is unable to make it through the three days without picking up a drink is encouraged to contact a treatment provider or healthcare provider for further assistance.
Raising Awareness of Alcohol and Alcohol Dependence
During Alcohol Awareness Month 2022, you can get involved by spreading information about the use and misuse of alcohol. Taking action to prevent alcohol abuse can help to save lives. Start off by reflecting on your own relationship with alcohol. Do you have any concerns? Next, have a conversation with the people in your life about alcohol use and misuse. Be sure to relay the message that alcohol use is not a requirement for socializing, unwinding, or as a rite of passage. If you discover that someone in your life is struggling with their alcohol use, provide them with resources and encourage them to seek professional help.
The more knowledge people have about the dangers of using alcohol and becoming dependent on it, the more they are likely to ask for help if they need to. The good news is that it is possible to recover from an alcohol use disorder.
Some common signs of problem use of alcohol include:
- Feeling guilty or ashamed about your drinking
- Lying about or hiding your drinking habits
- Drinking more than you intended
- Feeling like you ‘need’ to drink to relax or feel better
- People close to you express serious concerns about your alcohol use
- Experience withdrawal when you attempt to stop using alcohol
Stigma associated with Alcohol Use Disorders and Substance Use Disorders often keep people for seeking life-saving treatment. Having open conversations about alcohol abuse will help individuals struggling with an AUD reach out for help when they need it. Having resources readily available and understanding how to reduce barriers to treatment is one of the best ways to participate in Alcohol Awareness Month 2022.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has created an online directory to guide you through the process of finding a treatment provider. It is intended for individuals, family members, and friends to understand what treatment options are available and to help them access resources easily. Learn more at https://alcoholtreatment.niaaa.nih.gov.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also offers an online treatment locater and a free, confidential national helpline for those in need of treatment. The helpline is available 24/7, 365 days a year for individuals and family members. The number is 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The online treatment locater can be found here: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.
If you or someone you love is struggling with their alcohol use, help is available. Greenbriar Treatment Center offers a full continuum of care to address alcohol use disorders. For more information, or to schedule a free evaluation, contact us today.