Alcohol Awareness: Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and the organizations and individuals participating this year are hoping to increase awareness of how prevalent excessive drinking is and how much harm it can cause. The theme for this year is “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.” It is important for anyone struggling with alcohol use to know that help is available. Treatments are evidence-based and effective and can provide hope for a better future.
Too few people understand just how damaging excessive drinking can be.
It can lead to accidents, injuries, and deaths. Drinking too much can cause long-term mental and physical health problems. It can also lead to alcohol use disorder.
Millions of people already meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder, but there is hope. Treatments for this condition are available and are effective.
You only need to reach out for help and recovery is possible.
Drinking and Alcohol Use Disorder – Facts and Statistics
Moderate drinking is considered safe for most people, but it can become a problematic behavior. Even having just two or three of the 11 criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for a substance use disorder qualifies as mild alcohol use disorder.
Having alcohol use disorder and engaging in heavy drinking or binge drinking can cause all kinds of physical and mental health problems. It can also have a ripple effect and lead to other types of complications, like damaged relationships, difficulties at work, financial problems, and even legal trouble and incarceration. Here are some additional facts and troubling statistics about drinking in the U.S.:
- One drink is 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
- Binge drinking is considered to be four or more drinks at once for women and five or more drinks for men.
- Heavy drinking is eight or more drinks per week for women and 15 or more for men.
- Moderate drinking is one drink per day for women and two for men.
- Alcohol use causes 88,000 deaths per year. This makes alcohol the third-leading cause of preventable deaths.
- Binge drinking significantly increases the risk of accidents and injuries, possibly fatal, violence, alcohol poisoning, risky sexual behaviors, and miscarriage and fetal alcohol syndrome.
- Over the long-term, excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure, cancer, dementia, depression, anxiety, and alcohol use disorder.
- In 2015, nearly 27 percent of people 18 years old and older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the last month.
- The same report found that 15.1 million adults 18 and older have an alcohol use disorder.
- Only 6.7 percent of those adults received treatment.
April Is Alcohol Awareness Month
Alcohol is a mind-altering, addictive substance, and yet its use is legal and socially acceptable. Too many people lack awareness of how damaging drinking can be. While moderation is safe, many people drink excessively, binge drink, and even develop alcohol use disorder.
April has been designated as a time to increase awareness of the risks of excessive drinking. Many organizations are participating this year, offering free assessments of drinking behaviors, providing information about alcohol use disorder and the health effects of drinking, hosting community events to build awareness, and using social media to provide information.
The theme of this year’s Alcohol Awareness Month is “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.” The idea is to bring awareness to the problem of drinking, but also to provide help and support. Anyone struggling with drinking right now can access support and have hope for recovery in the future.
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Alcohol Use Disorder Is Treatable
One of the most troubling statistics about problem drinking is that most people with alcohol use disorder do not get treatment. Substance use disorders are chronic illnesses, and they are treatable. With the right treatment plan it is possible to get sober or to reduce drinking and to manage this illness over the long-term.
Alcohol is one of few substances of addiction that can be managed with both therapy and medication. There are approved prescription drugs that can help manage withdrawal and prevent relapse. Therapy is also recommended for a complete treatment program with lasting effectiveness. The drugs used to treat alcohol use disorder are disulfram, which causes unpleasant effects when combined with alcohol, naltrexone, which blocks the “high” that alcohol produces, and acamprosate, which manages cravings.
Therapies that are effective in the long-term management of alcohol use disorder are largely behavioral and include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and family therapy. These interventions help patients make positive changes, recognize triggers to drink, and manage cravings to prevent relapse. Therapy also promotes positive, healthy coping strategies that people can use to manage the negative emotions, like stress, that may lead to relapse.
Alcohol awareness is important. Too few people take drinking seriously. It is a dangerous behavior that has been normalized and that seems safe because it is legal. The purpose of this month is to increase awareness and to help people who struggle with drinking realize that help is available and that there is hope for recovery.
Need Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder?
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