April is Alcohol Awareness Month – A Time for Understanding and Healing

Published On: April 9th, 2024Categories: Addiction, Spectrum Corrections

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, a time dedicated to increasing understanding and reducing the stigma surrounding alcohol addiction. This month highlights the dangers of alcohol misuse and provides resources to seek help.

The Prevalence of Alcohol Misuse in the U.S.

The numbers are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use leads to 178,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Alcohol-impaired driving is responsible for thousands more fatalities. Sadly, an estimated 14 million Americans ages 18 and older struggle with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Alcohol is a leading preventable cause of death and has a profound economic impact on our country.

The Impact of Alcohol Misuse

Excessive alcohol consumption affects all aspects of life:

  • Health: Alcohol increases the risk of chronic diseases like cancer, liver damage, pancreatitis, and heart problems. It weakens the immune system and has a detrimental effect on mental health.
  • Relationships: Alcohol misuse can strain or destroy relationships, leading to arguments, isolation, and neglect of responsibilities.
  • Society and Economy: The financial burden of alcohol misuse in the U.S. reaches billions of dollars each year. Drunk driving, decreased productivity, and healthcare costs related to the overconsumption of alcohol place a strain on the economy.

Signs of Alcohol Misuse and Addiction

Recognizing the signs of alcohol misuse is crucial:

  • Increased tolerance and a need to drink more and more frequently.
  • Difficulty cutting back or quitting, even when desired.
  • Prioritizing drinking over other activities and responsibilities.
  • Drinking to relieve stress or cope with problems.
  • Experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when not drinking.

Getting Help

If you recognize these signs, help is available. Treatment is effective in managing alcohol use disorder. Here’s where to start:

  • Talk to a professional: Contact a doctor, therapist, or your local recovery center.
  • Explore treatment options: Treatment may include detox, therapy (individual or group), medication, and ongoing support groups.
  • Find resources: Spectrum Health Systems offers robust services, such as inpatient services like detoxification and residential treatment, outpatient services like counseling, and more.

Raise Awareness

  • Share information: Spread awareness on social media or by talking to friends and family. Educate yourself and others about the dangers of alcohol misuse.
  • Start a conversation: If you’re concerned about a loved one, open a compassionate and honest dialogue about their drinking habits.

Fighting the Stigma

Too often, shame and stigma prevent people from getting the help they desperately need. People often see alcohol use disorder as a moral failing or a lack of willpower rather than a complex disease which professionals and many others know it to be. This misunderstanding leads to feelings of isolation and a reluctance to seek help.

Alcohol Awareness Month is about changing this harmful narrative. Here’s how we can all help:

  • Change the language: Avoid judgmental terms like “alcoholic” or “drunk.” Instead, use person-first language such as “person with alcohol use disorder.”
  • Focus on the disease, not the person: Remind yourself and others that addiction is a chronic illness affecting the brain’s reward system. Like any disease, it requires understanding and treatment, not judgment.
  • Show compassion: Support those struggling, offer encouragement, and remind them they are not alone.
  • Be an advocate: Educate others and spread awareness about the realities of addiction and the importance of seeking help.

Take the First Step

Don’t wait. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol use, start the journey today toward a healthier future. Alcohol Awareness Month serves as a reminder that there is hope and that help is available.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction or a substance use disorder, call Spectrum Health Systems today at 1-877-MyRehab.


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