A Guide To National Alcohol Awareness Month
Author: Carmen McCrackin | Published:
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The History Of National Alcohol Awareness Month
Since 1987, the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD) has designated April as Alcohol Awareness Month, a public health initiative to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and promote community action on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues. This yearly observance encourages individuals and organizations to come together, share resources, and engage in meaningful conversations about the impact of alcohol on health and society.
The founder of NCADD, Marty Man, was one of the original members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the first woman to complete a 12-step program. She founded NCADD to help others find alcoholism treatment and to conduct medical and scientific research on addiction.
Despite the social acceptance of drinking in America, there is a dire need for increased awareness of the harms of alcohol, especially excessive alcohol use and binge drinking. Excessive alcohol use claims the lives of over 140,000 Americans yearly, and it is the leading cause of preventable death in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The good news is that anyone can help to prevent excessive alcohol use, and initiatives like National Alcohol Awareness Month can help provide the public with strategies to battle alcoholism and prevent alcohol-related harm.
The Scope And Impact Of Alcoholism
Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a chronic disease that affects millions of Americans. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 14.5 million adults (12 and older) in the US had AUD in 2019. AUD is characterized by a pattern of alcohol consumption that leads to significant impairment or distress. This can include symptoms and actions such as tolerance, withdrawal, and continued use despite negative consequences.
The impact of alcoholism extends beyond the individual to affect families and communities. Alcohol-related harm can take many forms, including accidents, injuries, violence, and chronic health conditions like liver disease and cancer. In addition, alcoholism can lead to social and economic consequences such as job loss, financial problems, and legal issues.
How To Get Involved This National Alcohol Awareness Month
While you don’t need an initiative program to begin talking to your loved ones about alcohol use, having a month dedicated to alcohol awareness provides a helpful platform to start having these difficult conversations. Individuals can use this month to speak with their loved ones about alcohol misuse, healthy coping skills, and the dangers associated with alcohol use.
Additionally, National Alcohol Awareness Month presents a great opportunity to educate yourself about alcoholism and alcohol-related issues. Education activities could involve reading articles or books, attending educational events, or taking an online course. The more you know, the better equipped you will be to make informed decisions about your own alcohol use and to support others who may be struggling with addiction.
Another way to engage in National Alcohol Awareness Month is to participate in an “Alcohol-Free Weekend.” This event encourages individuals to abstain from alcohol for 72 hours to raise awareness about the impact of alcohol and to promote healthy lifestyles. It’s important to monitor feelings of discomfort or cravings during this time, and if intense withdrawal symptoms occur, it may be time to speak with a treatment provider. Those who are physically or psychologically dependent on alcohol should seek advice from a health professional before they partake in an alcohol-free weekend.
Resources For Alcoholism Support
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, many resources are available to provide support and treatment. These resources include support groups, online support, government agencies, college programs, addiction treatment, and therapy.
Support groups such as AA, SMART Recovery, and Women for Sobriety provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to share their experiences and receive guidance from others who have gone through similar struggles.
AA is a 12-step program that provides peer support for individuals in recovery from alcoholism. They offer free meetings nationwide, and anyone who wants to stop drinking, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, income, or profession, can join. SMART Recovery is a evidence-based program that uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques to help individuals overcome addiction. Similarly to AA, they also provide free meetings in-person or online.
Women for Sobriety is a unique support group to help women overcome substance use disorders (SUDs). It offers a supportive and empowering environment that focuses on building emotional and spiritual growth and is the first peer-support program tailored specifically for women. Women for Sobriety provides a range of resources, including in-person and online meetings, discussion forums, and literature, to help women in their recovery journey.
Online support groups, websites, and forums can be excellent resources for those who may not have access to in-person support groups or prefer the convenience of online resources. Teletherapy and virtual support groups allow individuals to connect with others and receive help from the comfort of their homes.
Online alcohol counseling and support groups are increasingly available and offer a convenient and accessible option for those seeking help, especially for individuals facing barriers such as physical distance, limited mobility, or scheduling conflicts. These online resources can provide valuable support, information, and community for individuals on their recovery journey.
Government and national agencies such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) provide a wide range of resources, including educational materials, treatment programs, and support groups.
SAMHSA provides information and resources for individuals seeking substance abuse treatment, including treatment locators, drug-free workplace programs, and information on medications for addiction treatment. NIAAA researches alcoholism and provides resources for individuals and families affected by alcoholism, including tips for finding treatment and alcohol interventions for young adults. NCADD is a nonprofit organization that provides education, advocacy, and support for individuals and families affected by alcoholism and drug dependence. Additionally, nearly every state’s department of health offers addiction-related resources and hotlines.
Collegiate recovery programs (CRPs) and student health services offer valuable resources and support for college students who are struggling with alcoholism and substance abuse. These services are staffed by campus health professionals who can help students reduce substance abuse, improve their mental health, and develop self-confidence.
CRPs provide essential support for students in recovery from addiction and work to create a sober campus culture. These programs aim to provide an educational opportunity alongside recovery, ensuring that students can focus on both without sacrificing one for the other. Additionally, many colleges offer health services that focus on substance abuse education and prevention, including on-campus support groups, which can be an essential source of support for students in need.
Professional treatment programs can be highly effective in helping individuals overcome alcohol addiction. Inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities offer different levels of care and support. Inpatient rehabs provide a highly structured, immersive treatment experience that includes medically-supervised detoxification and around-the-clock supervision. Outpatient rehabs offer more flexibility, with drug and alcohol treatment sessions and support groups that individuals can attend at various times throughout the week.
Another form of professional treatment is medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which uses medications to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings during recovery. MAT is often combined with counseling and behavioral therapies for a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment.
Therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and motivational enhancement therapy (MET), can also be effective in helping individuals overcome alcohol addiction and develop healthy coping skills.
CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors, whereas DBT is a type of therapy that helps individuals develop coping skills and emotional regulation. MET is a type of therapy that focuses on building motivation and commitment to recovery.
With such a wide range of resources available, it’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating alcohol addiction. Working with a healthcare professional is essential to determine the best course of action for your individual needs.
National Alcohol Awareness Month And The Importance Of Support
Alcoholism and excessive alcohol use remain significant problems in the US, leading to preventable deaths and numerous social and health consequences. However, the good news is that help is available, and anyone can take steps to prevent excessive alcohol use and addiction. By participating in initiatives like National Alcohol Awareness Month and utilizing the available resources for alcoholism support, individuals and communities can take positive steps toward reducing alcohol-related harm and finding treatment for those battling alcohol addiction. If you or a loved one is interested in learning more about treatment options, contact a treatment provider today.
Author: Carmen McCrackin | Last Edited: August 7, 2023