Alcohol Awareness Month is founded by and sponsored by NCADD ( National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence) since 1987. This important cause is observed every April to increase public awareness and understanding aimed at reducing the stigma associated with alcoholism. Too often that stigma prevents individuals and families from seeking help.
Alcohol Awareness Month raises awareness while encouraging people to make healthy and safe choices when it comes to the use of alcohol. It also opens a window of opportunity to address underage drinking, which is one of the reasons why NCADD Alcohol Awareness Month is recognized in April- the beginning of prom and graduation season.
Alcoholism is a chronic and often progressive disease that includes problems controlling drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, and continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems. Symptoms include craving, loss of control, physical dependence and tolerance (NCADD). Alcoholism is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation, according to the CDC.
Physical Effects of Alcohol
- Prolonged alcohol use leads to permanent cell damage. Effects include loss of sensation, eye paralysis and mental deterioration.
- Increased risk of developing certain forms of cancer especially cancer of the esophagus, mouth, throat, voice box, color and rectum.
- Three drinks a day may increase the risk of cirrhosis of the liver (scarring of the liver). Alcoholic cirrhosis can cause death.
- Chronic alcohol use can lead to alcoholic hepatitis or inflammation of the liver. Symptoms include fever, jaundice and abdominal pain. This can cause death.
- Central Nervous System effects include blackouts, sleep problems and hangovers.
- Alcohol use can impair sexual functioning.
- High doses cause damage to body organs such as brain, heart, stomach and intestines.
- Higher doses can lead to cognitive, perceptual and behavioral impairment.
- Chronic use increases the risk of high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, peptic ulcers, dilated blood vessels, diarrhea and impaired ability to absorb nutrients. It also inhibits the production of red and white blood cells which may result in anemia and weakened resistance to infection.
Most body systems are affected by alcohol. Seventy to eighty percent of alcohol is absorbed in the small intestine. Long-term use can cause inflammation of the pancreas (the organ that produces insulin, helps regulates blood sugar and aids in digestion) resulting in severe abdominal pain, weight loss and possible death.
More than 18 million individuals or 8.5% of Americans suffer from alcohol-use disorders. In addition, countless millions of individuals, family members and children who experience the devastating effects of the alcohol problem of someone in their life. One in four children grows up in a home where someone drinks too much. More than 7 million live where at least one parent depends on or has abused alcohol.
The economic cost of alcoholism and alcohol abuse has recently been estimated by the CDC to be $223.5 billion ($746 per person) or about $1.90 per drink. Researchers found that these costs largely resulted from losses in workplace productivity (72%), law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses related to excessive alcohol consumption (9%) and motor vehicle crashes costs from impaired driving (6%). Drinking and driving causes 16,000 deaths a year and thousands more injuries. It is estimated that 32% of fatal car crashes involved an intoxicated driver or pedestrian.
Alcohol places enormous emotional, physical and financial burden on family members and children of the person who is addicted to alcohol. Seventy-five percent of domestic abuse is committed while one or both members are intoxicated. Family members utilize healthcare twice as much as families without an alcohol problem. Emotional and physical abuse often occurs as a result of parents or spouses losing control with family members because of alcohol.
Some more shocking alcohol statistics include:
- Alcohol is a primary factor in 4 leading causes of death for 10-21 yr olds.
- 1 in every 12 adults suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence.
- Teens that experiment with alcohol before the age of 15 are 4x more likely to become alcohol dependent when they are older than those that wait until age 20.
- 100,000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes.
- Approximately 17% of men and 8% of women will depend on alcohol in their lifetime (NIAAA).
- Each year binge drinking (5 or more drinks in a row within 2 hours) contributes to deaths of 23,000 women and girls in the U.S.
- 12.5% of women binge drink. Most prevalent among 18-34 yr olds.
In this country, alcohol is consumed to celebrate almost every occasion. These drinks smell good and look pretty which makes us tend to forget that alcohol is a drug. Not to say that drinking alcohol is all bad. Moderate drinking can offer some health benefits, according to Mayo Clinic. But it is the heavy drinking that can have the serious consequences. When it comes to drinking alcohol, the key is doing so in moderation. Of course, you don’t have to drink any alcohol at all and if you don’t currently drink, don’t start drinking for possible health benefits. In some cases, it’s safest to avoid alcohol entirely. The possible benefits don’t outweight the risks.
If you or anyone you know has a drinking problem and is suffering in silence, you don’t have to. There are many effective treatment options. Help is available. Click these links below for resources/more information.