What is Alcohol Awareness Month

by Jinal Gangar last updated -

About 16 million people in the US suffer from alcohol use disorder (AUD), of which only an estimated 10 percent seek professional treatment. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) says that most people with AUD can benefit from treatment and overcome alcoholism. Initiatives like Alcohol Awareness Month help raise awareness about alcoholism and the actions that can be taken to treat or prevent it.

What is Alcohol Awareness Month?

Alcohol Awareness Month is an initiative that helps to educate people about the prevention, treatment, and recovery of alcohol-related disorders.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) introduced the Alcohol Awareness Month in 1987 to minimize the stigma associated with excess alcohol consumption. Over the years, NCADD and its various affiliate organizations have worked in the fight against alcoholism to make recovery desirable and possible. [1]

The NIAAA has also designed various tools to help you rethink your drinking habits and take corrective actions as and when required. [2]

Four half-empty bottles of alcohol with a silhouette of a man drinking in the background

Alcoholism can be a result of acute stress. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The theme of the alcohol awareness program in 2019 is ‘Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.’ Facing Addiction, a non-profit organization, and NCADD have recently merged to reduce the chances of alcohol-related disorders by educating them about the causes, symptoms as well as treatments for alcohol addiction. [3]

What is Alcohol Use Disorder?

“Alcohol use disorder is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using” according to the NIAAA. [4]

Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

The common signs that will help you identify alcoholism or alcohol dependence are when you: [5]

  • Tend to drink more than you intend to
  • Rely on alcohol when you are under stressful situations
  • Ignore important tasks to drink
  • Drink even when you feel dizzy and unwell
  • Use alcohol as a pain-relieving mechanism
  • Have a family history of AUD
  • Face symptoms like anxiety, nausea, and sweating often when not drinking

Negative Effects of Alcohol Use Disorder

More than 88000 people die every year in the United States alone because of alcohol misuse, making alcohol the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. [6] [7]

Alcohol abuse can lead to many short-term and long-term problems: [8] [9]

  • Violence
  • Injuries
  • Sexual assault
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • High blood pressure
  • Cognitive disorders
  • Cancer
  • Liver disease

Approximately 20% of college students suffer from alcohol use disorder at this point. Furthermore, one in every four college students has attributed low grades, lack of attention in lectures, and falling in class to alcohol consumption. These numbers show the stark reality of the prevalence of alcoholism in colleges. [10]

Close up of a hand of a person offering alcohol bottle and another person's hand denying the offer

Drinking too much alcohol can cause fatty liver disease and inflammation of the liver. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

What Can You Do To Prevent Alcoholism?

If you find yourself going through alcohol dependence, here’s what you can do: [11] [12]

  • Talk to a loved one about alcohol cravings and dependence.
  • Try to develop a new skill or a habit that helps you avoid drinking.
  • Avoid instances or gatherings where alcohol is used.
  • Do not stock alcohol bottles in your car or at home.
  • Try to avoid drinking when you are emotionally vulnerable.

And here’s what we can do to help people suffering from alcoholism: [13] [14]

  • Notice the drinking patterns of your loved ones and help them set limits if you see them drinking in excess.
  • Educate yourself and your friends and family members about the safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed as well as the consequences and health risks of getting addicted to alcohol.
  • Help them reach out to counselors and professionals online or in person. [15]

Alcohol awareness month is a way to shed light on the problems that exist in our society because of alcohol overuse. The very reason it is not just an awareness day, but an awareness month is that it aims at reaching out to more and more people who can save their own as well as their loved one’s lives.

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About the Author
 Jinal, an ex-banker who has completed her MBA in finance from Mumbai University, is passionate about health and wellness. She is a social media enthusiast. She has completed an online program on “Introduction to Food and Health” from Stanford University, US. On weekends you can find her in cafes or movie theaters. Positivity drives her and she finds peace in cooking, reading, and coffee!
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