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Celebrating Alcohol Awareness Month

Celebrating Alcohol Awareness Month

April is Alcohol Awareness Month! Since 1987, National Alcohol Awareness Month has been celebrated to raise awareness and combat one of America’s biggest issues: alcoholism. Started by the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD), the holiday shines a light on the stigma surrounding alcoholism and helps people understand that just because it is legal, does not mean it doesn’t come with consequences such as alcohol poisoning, memory loss or worse, death.

Alcoholism In The United States

Addiction to alcohol, also known as alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD), is one of the most common forms of substance abuse in the Western world. In fact, Over 14.5 million people aged 12 and over struggle with an alcohol use disorder in the United States.1

Alcohol-related deaths account for an estimated 95,000 of people, making alcohol the third-leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Of the patients admitted to the emergency room, 47% tested positive for alcohol and 35% were intoxicated. Of those who were intoxicated, 75% showed signs of chronic alcoholism.2 What is most shocking is that only 10% of Americans suffering from alcoholism seek treatment.1

Side Effects of Alcoholism

You may already know what the short-term effects of drinking are but repeated consumption for long periods of time can have detrimental long-term effects on your well-being. Some of those effects include:3

  • High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum
  • Weakening of the immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick
  • Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance
  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
  • Social problems, including family problems, job-related problems, and unemployment
  • Alcohol use disorders or alcohol dependence

How Alcohol Affects The Youth

One common thought behind alcohol consumption is that it is okay, acceptable, and sometimes, encouraged. This may explain why it is not uncommon to see parents give their child their very first drink. But how many people under the age of 21 drink? How does it affect the youth community? The answers might surprise you.

The National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism reported that In 2019, about 24.6 percent of 14- to 15-year-olds reported having at least 1 drink and 7 million young people ages 12 to 20 reported that they drank alcohol beyond “just a few sips” in the past month.4

In the same year, 825,000 young people reported binge drinking on 5 or more days over the past month.4 Binge drinking is classified as consuming 4 or 5 alcoholic beverages in 2 hours or less. Many adolescents drink alcohol due to peer pressure, stress, curiosity and/or the desire to increase independence. However, drinking underage can lead to serious issues such as:

  • Problems in school
  • Social issues
  • Health concerns
  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Unwanted or unplanned pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • High risk of suicide attempts
  • Legal trouble
  • Abuse of other substances

Alcohol can lead to many consequences but the most severe is death. Every year, there are more than 4,000 alcohol-related deaths in individuals under the age of 21. This includes car accidents, homicides, alcohol poisoning and suicides. Because of a users impaired judgment, slow reaction time, and lack of concentration, someone who is drunk puts themself and others at risk to many different mishaps such as sexual abuse, drug usage or injury, sometimes fatal.

Especially in cases where the person is driving under the influence, there are extremely high numbers of deaths every year. Driving under the influence or DUI, is defined as driving while being at or over the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08%.

Anything over that limit puts the person and others on the road at risk of getting into an accident. DUI commonly leads to death, imprisonment and fines but people still do it. It is common in all age groups but underage drinkers, who can legally drive at 16, account for a huge percentage of DUI drivers.

8.2% of high school students reported driving after drinking alcohol one or more times and ⅕ highschoolers reported being in the car with someone who was DUI.5 Of these users, a huge percentage will be involved in a fatal car accident. In fact, Drivers who are between the ages of 16 and 20 years old are 10 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash, than drivers over the age of 21.6

How Does Alcohol Affect Expecting Mothers

As an expecting mother, there are many things you can’t do and this can be frustrating. Whether it is cutting off caffeine or not eating cold cuts, some women find it hard to stop their normal routines and change themselves for almost a year.

However, these changes make a huge difference in an unborn child’s life. Alcohol and drugs are no different. Upon finding out you are pregnant, you should stop drinking alcohol or using drugs immediately. In severe cases, you may need to seek professional help to quit habits such as drug use and alcohol consumption.

Alcohol in the mother’s blood passes to the baby through the umbilical cord. It can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities. These disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Some of them include:7

  • Abnormal facial features, such as a smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip
  • Small head size
  • Shorter-than-average height
  • Low body weight
  • Poor coordination
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Difficulty with attention
  • Poor memory
  • Difficulty in school (especially with math)
  • Learning disabilities
  • Speech and language delays
  • Intellectual disability or low IQ
  • Poor reasoning and judgment skills
  • Sleep and sucking problems as a baby
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Problems with the heart, kidney, or bones

Because the consequences of drinking while pregnant are so severe, many expecting mothers cut off alcohol altogether. For others, like those who have an alcohol-related issue, they may need to seek professional help to quit drinking safely.

How Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Are Connected

Extensive research over the years has proven that people who are dependent on alcohol are more likely to use drugs and vice versa, people who use drugs are much more likely to use alcohol.

One study found that of 248 alcoholics seeking treatment, 64 percent met the criteria for a drug use disorder at some point in their lifetime. 8.5 percent of adults in the United States met the criteria for an alcohol use disorder, whereas 2 percent met the criteria for a drug use disorder and 1.1 percent met the criteria for both.8

The reasons why a person may use one or both substances is in search of the feeling or “high” they get from using. The main issue with alcohol is that it is legal and therefore not viewed negatively, but as a normal part of life. Users of drugs will often quit the drug they are using and replace it with alcohol for this reason, thinking they do not have a problem. Whereas some alcoholics will use drugs to maximize the feeling they get while being drunk and feel even more of a high from powerful drugs than that of alcohol. This is also referred to as a “gateway” to other substances.

For these reasons and many more, having a co-occuring dependence on both alcohol and drugs is very common and it is much harder to quit two addictions than it is to quit just one. That is why it is important to seek help as soon as you become aware of your addictions and/or you see these addictions in someone you love.

How You Can Celebrate Alcoholism Awareness Month

There are ways you can celebrate this Alcohol Awareness Month to help spread the word and make a difference. Some of those ways to celebrate include:

  • Seeking help for you or a loved one suffering from any form of addiction.
  • Refrain from drinking the entire month and encourage others to do it too, like “Sober October” or “Dry January. It may just kickstart their recovery.
  • Accompany a friend or loved one to a AA or NA meeting.
  • Have fun doing your normal activities without consuming alcohol.
  • Spend the month enjoying other activities, such as going outdoors, reading, journaling and other healthy alternatives to drinking, even if drinking is moderate.
  • Enjoy “mocktails” or alcohol-free beverages to promote anti-drinking.
  • Educate adults and youths who may be tempted to drink on the consequences of drinking, such as alcoholism or death.
  • Avoid enabling loved ones from drinking or attending events that encourage drinking such as a happy hour or bar crawl.
  • Most importantly, this April should be about acknowledging the holiday and encouraging others to do the same.

Seeking Help With Banyan

More than a third of people in treatment have problems with both alcohol and drugs.9 With so few people seeking substance abuse services, it is no wonder that alcoholism and drug abuse are such an issue all over the world. There are many different ways to seek treatment, but what is important is that you seek help before it takes over your life or kills you.

Banyan offers nationwide detox programs and addiction treatments catered to each person’s needs and unique pathways to achieve recovery. Some of those pathways include outpatient, inpatient, and partial hospitalization. With mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities across the country, there is no better time to seek help with Banyan Treatment Centers.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction or mental health, call us today at 888-280-4763 to find out which Banyan rehab location is right for you.

  1. Alcoholism: Abuse, types, symptoms and addiction | recovered.org
  2. Alcohol Facts and Statistics
  3. Drinking too much alcohol can harm your health. Learn the facts | CDC
  4. Underage Drinking | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
  5. Past Underage Drinking Statistics | 2011 and Earlier
  6. Drinking And Driving (DUI) - Alcohol Rehab
  7. Alcohol Use During Pregnancy | CDC
  8. epidemiology: how common is alcohol and other drug addiction?
  9. » How Does Drinking Alcohol Affect Recovery From Another Drug Use Disorder?

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Veterans Alcohol Abuse
The Different Types of Alcoholics
Andi Plotkin
Andi Plotkin
Andi Plotkin-Digital Marketing Specialist, is a local to South Florida, receiving her Master’s in Communications from Florida International University. She is passionate about digital marketing and helping others, that is why working in the addiction field is important to her. Her favorite part of the position is getting to help those in need of treatment. Her goals include increasing engagement, educating the public on addiction and mental health issues, and connecting people to the proper treatment they deserve.