The month of April is the perfect time to open up a dialogue about a mental health condition that impacts millions of people. April is Alcohol Awareness Month: “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.” Sponsored by Facing Addiction with NCADD, the national observance provides communities an opportunity to recognize the problem is severe and take action.
Each year, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (now Facing Addiction with NCADD) equips community organizations with tools to raise awareness. The impact of alcohol on the fabric of American society is monumental. Alcohol use and excessive drinking are a leading cause of illness and premature death.
Alcohol addiction is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the United States. Some 88,000 American deaths can be linked to excessive alcohol use. According to the organization, 40 percent of all hospital beds are being used to treat alcohol-related illness. Despite those troubling figures, alcohol remains legal for adult consumption, and that is unlikely to change.
Alcohol isn’t disappearing, therefore it’s critical that Americans have the facts, so they can make changes before excessive drinking leads to more significant issues. Moreover, communities must encourage millions of adults already in the cycle of abuse to seek assistance.
“Alcohol Awareness Month provides a focused opportunity across America to increase awareness and understanding of alcohol addiction, its causes, effective treatment, and recovery. It is an opportunity to decrease stigma and misunderstandings in order to dismantle the barriers to treatment and recovery, and thus make seeking help more readily available to those who suffer from this disease.”
What is Alcohol Use Disorder?
When most people think of problem drinking or about people who have trouble with alcohol, the word alcoholism comes to mind. The majority of Americans are familiar with the mutual-help fellowship known as Alcoholics Anonymous. It is an organization that people turn to when alcohol has a damaging effect on their life.
There are many forms of alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is a somewhat dated term that is still used by most people inside the rooms of recovery and out. Medical professionals today will not typically use the words alcoholism nor alcoholic. Doctors and addiction specialists – following Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) guidelines – use the term alcohol use disorder. There is a list of criterion to help determine the intensity of a person’s problem, i.e., mild, moderate, or severe AUD.
There is a total of eleven symptoms to help determine what type of action is required. Not everyone who drinks problematically requires treatment. For instance, someone who meets 2 or three of the criterion is believed to have a mild AUD. Those who have six or more symptoms are severe. DSM-V symptoms include:
- Drinking more or for a longer period than intended.
- Feeling incapable of cutting back on the amount of alcohol consumed.
- Becoming sick for an extended time as a result of drinking too much.
- Inability to concentrate due to alcohol cravings.
- Inability to care for a family, hold down a job, or perform in school.
- Continuing to drink despite problems caused with friends or family.
- Decreased participation in activities which were once important.
- Finding oneself in dangerous or harmful situations as a direct result of drinking.
- Continuing to drink despite adding to another health problem, feeling depressed or anxious or blacking out.
- Drinking more as a result of a tolerance to alcohol.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol-free Weekend Litmus Test
AUD is a chronic, progressive mental health disease. If any of the above symptoms resonate with you or a loved one, please take action. Some individuals may be unsure of what might happen if they abstain from alcohol for an extended period. Not everyone who drinks too much is dependent on the substance. Taking a break for a period can help people learn more about their relationship with alcohol.
April 5-7, 2019, is Alcohol-free Weekend. Facing Addiction with NCADD asks Americans to abstain from alcohol this weekend to help raise awareness about the impact of alcohol. The event can also help people who are on the fence as to whether they have a problem.
Those who are unable to go without drinking for 72 hours, can benefit from calling addiction professionals or speaking with their physician.
Seeking Addiction Recovery
At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we strongly encourage men and women who struggle with alcohol to reach out for support. Leading a productive, alcohol-free lifestyle is possible. Our Admissions and Assessment department is staffed with nurses and chemical dependency counselors who can answer questions you have about treatment and recovery.
We invite you to take the first step toward recovery during Alcohol Awareness Month. (866) 273-0868