by Christine Pajarillo
Since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month every April to increase public awareness and understanding on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.
This year, during Alcohol Awareness Month, Whittier Street Health Center encourages you to educate yourself and your loved ones about the dangers of drinking. Drinking too much alcohol increases people’s risk of injuries, violence, liver disease and some types of cancer.
The use and abuse of alcohol is a serious issue that should not be ignored or minimized. If left untreated, use and abuse can develop into alcoholism. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse early. If you’re worried about your own alcohol use, or that of a friend or family member, here are some of the warning signs to look for:
- Drink more, or longer, than you plan to
- Have tried to cut back or stop more than once and couldn’t
- Spend a lot of time drinking, being sick, or hungover
- Want alcohol so badly you can’t think of anything else
- Have problems with work, school, or family because of your drinking (or because you’re sick after having alcohol)
- Keep drinking even though it has caused problems for you or your relationships
- Quit or cut back on other activities that were important to you in order to drink
- Have found yourself in situations while drinking or afterward that made you more likely to get hurt
- Keep having alcohol even though it made you depressed or anxious, hurt your health, or led to a memory blackout
- Have to drink more than you used to for the effect you want
- Experienced withdrawal symptoms when the buzz wore off, including trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, a seizure, or seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there.
If you have any of these symptoms, your drinking may already be a cause for concern. The more symptoms you have, the more urgent the need for change. A health professional or a behavioral health specialist can conduct a formal assessment of your symptoms to see if an alcohol use disorder is present.
Alcoholism is a chronic disease. It’s not a weakness. Like many other diseases, it has known symptoms, and is influenced by your genes and your life situation. The good news is that no matter how severe the problem may seem, most people with an alcohol use disorder can benefit from some form of treatment. Ultimately, what may work for one person may not be a good fit for someone else. There is not a one-size-fit-all treatment for alcohol use disorder, but understanding the different options can be an important first step.
Whittier’s Behavioral Health Department offers accessible, weekly support for existing Whittier patients who are seeking help with active or recent substance abuse/dependence. The Early Support and Recovery group, Mondays from 10-11, provides peer group support, treatment, motivation, psycho-education and orientation to substance abuse and mental health counseling as well as referral to psycho-pharmacology as indicated or to detox if needed.
Additional sobriety resources include:
Education and support for friends and family members of individuals struggling with addiction
Learn to Cope