Raising Awareness About Alcohol Abuse and Dependency
Organized by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, April has been designated as Alcohol Awareness Month since 1987 as a way of increasing outreach and education about the dangers of alcoholism and issues related to drinking.
The awareness month had the original intention of targeting college-aged individuals whose newfound independence sometimes contributed to excess drinking. The national public health program has over time been compelled to expand its focus, based on statistical evidence linking immoderate alcohol intake to people of all ages. The movement now draws more attention to the causes and effects of alcoholism as well as how to help families and communities deal with drinking problems.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 140,000 people die from excessive alcohol use in the United States each year, with alcoholism ranking as the third leading preventable cause of death in this country.
Excessive alcohol consumption over time has a proven link to chronic diseases including high blood pressure, liver and heart disease, digestive problems, and various types of cancer. And its role in premature deaths from motor vehicle accidents, poisonings, and suicides is alarming.
While alcohol abuse impacts people of all races, African Americans struggle with the medical issues and complications related to alcohol at higher rates than other populations – this according to a West Virginia University study that indicates this demographic battles with heart disease, cancer, and cirrhosis of the liver more often than other ethnic groups. There is no denying that socioeconomic issues contribute to this medical disparity.
Increasing access to treatment in disadvantaged neighborhoods and fostering preventative measures in schools and communities can go a long way toward educating the public about the dangers of alcohol abuse.
Whittier Street Health Center does this through our Substance Abuse Awareness, Prevention, and Support Programs. We integrate alcohol screenings in our dental and primary care clinics, and host treatment and relapse prevention groups. Our Behavioral Health Department offers individual, family, couple, group counseling, and medication management services for all ages. Our Substance Abuse Services clinicians specialize in the treatment of addictions and dual diagnoses individuals and can facilitate intervention for families in crisis.
April may be National Alcohol Awareness Month but learning about – and doing our best to prevent – the often life-threatening risks of excessive drinking is a year-round commitment. If you or someone in your life needs help, please reach out to us for counseling and treatment.