National Alcohol Awareness Month is a health awareness campaign that takes places every April with the goal of raising awareness for communities and to help understand the causes and treatment available for one of the nation’s biggest health issues. Among these goals, the initiative also aims to reduce the social stigma associated with alcoholism and to educate the public on how the disease can be properly treated. Although it isn’t commonly seen as one, alcohol is classified as a drug. As a central nervous system depressant, consuming alcohol slows down brain functioning, neural activity, and further reduces the operating of various vital functions. Despite this classification, many adults throughout the United States consume alcohol moderately and without any health complications. However, for some, alcohol consumption presents a serious health risk due to alcohol use disorder (AUD). AUD affects about 15 million adults in the U.S. with an estimated 88,000 people dying from alcohol-related causes annually according to data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Fortunately, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism along with other activist groups has created National Alcohol Awareness Month to address this serious issue by helping communities better understand and treat those suffering from AUD/alcoholism. Understanding the signs of alcoholic dependency is the first step to getting the proper treatment you or the person affected by the disorder require. One of the main signs you or someone else has an AUD is when drinking begins to impact your life or their life negatively. Examples of this include drinking or being drunk causing issues with personal or work relationships, drinking more or for longer than you intended on a regular basis, drinking to improve mood, and using alcohol to cope with anxiety or stress. Another tell tale sign of alcoholism can be feeling regularly irritable or anxious when you are not drinking or intoxicated. In addition to having a negative impact on your relationships, alcohol dependency can negatively affect your physical health.
When used in moderation alcohol is relatively safe; however, when consumed in large quantities in a short period of time, there can be many adverse health effects and risks. Consuming too much alcohol can result in alcohol poisoning which causes severe depressant effects on the central nervous system that can lead to serious chronic illness and death. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services physical symptoms of alcohol poisoning include unconsciousness, inability to feel pain, slow or irregular breathing, vomiting, respiratory depression, cold or clammy skin, blue-colored skin, seizures, and cardiac arrest. Additionally regular overconsumption can also lead to a variety of chronic illnesses and health issues including memory loss, difficulty learning, alcoholic hepatitis, liver disease, liver fibrosis, fatty liver, high blood pressure, stroke, and various cancers. Thankfully, there is a variety of are a variety of treatment options and facilities to help those with alcoholism overcome their addiction and avoid these negative health risks.
Identifying an alcohol abuse disorder (AUD) is the first step to recovery. Attempting to quit on your own or without medical supervision and expertise can be high-risk dangerous due to withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, delirium tremors, excessive vomiting, insomnia, severe anxiety, and in some cases high fever/excessive sweating. Fortunately, there are many different inpatient and outpatient treatment centers available to help you or anyone else struggling to overcome alcohol dependency. If you or someone you know is suffering from an AUD, seeking medical treatment and counseling is the best way to combat the disease. If it is someone you know, they may be resistant to going to a treatment center at first. Sitting down and having an open discussion with them about their relationship with alcohol and its affects on their life is the best way to initiate the recovery process. The most important factor in helping someone else’s recovery is being understanding of their disease and actively supporting them as they try to stop drinking. Offering to go with them to treatment or support group meetings can also be a good approach to helping them recover. Alcoholism is a disease and can be just as challenging for a victims family to deal with as it is for them. But with the help of counseling, medical treatment, and active support from family and friends it can be overcome.
Alcohol, Tobacco, and other drugs. SAMHSA. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/atod
Is alcohol a drug? Addiction Center. (2021, September 27). Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.addictioncenter.com/community/is-alcohol-a-drug/
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Alcohol Awareness Month: Learn about alcohol use disorder and ways to get help. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-awareness-month-learn-about-alcohol-use-disorder-and-ways-get-help