Doesn’t it seem like every month — every day, even — of the year is a “National Day” of something? While National Pizza Day can be fun, there is a reason why an entire month is dedicated to alcohol awareness. Instead of just being a silly holiday where you can get a free cup of coffee or a discounted ice cream cone, Alcohol Awareness Month is a chance to make a difference in your life or in the life of a loved one.
Founded and sponsored by the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), the month of April was established as Alcohol Awareness Month in 1987 in the hopes of reducing the stigma that is so often associated with alcoholism. April is dedicated to focusing on alcohol awareness and the encouragement of others to focus on the prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery of alcohol-related problems.
This April is the time to get involved and get educated. How much do you know about alcohol misuse? Are you wondering if you have a problem with alcohol or are worried about how a family member, friend or co-worker might be misusing alcohol?
In an effort to highlight the importance of bringing awareness to the dangers of alcohol misuse, it is necessary to be fully aware of the facts.
Alcohol Awareness By the Numbers
How many people use alcohol in the United States? The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that:
- 86 percent of people ages 18 and older reported they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime
- 70 percent of people drank alcohol in the past year
- 56 percent of people drank alcohol in the past month
- 15.1 million adults (ages 18+) developed alcohol use disorder
- 9.8 million men
- 5.3 million women
- Only 1.3 million (of 15.1 million) received treatment for alcohol use disorder at a specialized facility
- In other words, only 8.3 percent of adults with alcohol use disorder sought treatment.
- 623,000 adolescents (ages 12 to 17) developed alcohol use disorder
- Nearly 90,000 people die every year from alcohol-related deaths
How to Help Spread Alcohol Awareness and Make a Difference
This year’s theme for Alcohol Awareness Month is “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage.’” focuses on public health issue of underage drinking. The month will be full of local, state, and national events aimed at educating people about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism, particularly among the youth, and the important role that parents can play in giving their children a better understanding of the impact that alcohol can have on their lives.
One of the biggest and most integral parts of Alcohol Awareness Month is the alcohol-free weekend (March 30th-April 1st, 2018). This weekend is designed to raise public awareness about the use of alcohol and how it may be affecting individuals, families, and the community. During these 72 hours, an open invitation is extended to all Americans, young and old, to participate in three alcohol-free days and to use this time to contact local or national alcoholism agencies to learn more about alcoholism and its early symptoms.
Locally, it is encouraged to:
- Partner with local businesses (fast-food restaurants, book and music stores, movie theaters, skating rinks, bowling alleys, and mini golf courses) for alcohol-free youth events or promotions.
- Organize an Alcohol Awareness parade or rally.
- Counter the pressures on young people to drink alcohol through after-school programs, job training, and community service opportunities.
- Create inserts of self-help groups, local resources and support groups to include in community newsletters or public utility bills.
- Plan an Alcohol Awareness Month luncheon at a local hospital with guest speakers who represents the health and mental health community.
For middle and high school students your community can:
- Organize alcohol-free extracurricular activities, sporting events, dances and rock concerts.
- Ask local grocery stores to provide quantities of paper grocery bags to schools and then ask students to illustrate the bags with Alcohol Awareness Month messages.
- Raise money to support local and national groups for alcohol prevention curricula and public education campaigns. (raffles, auctions, concerts, rummage sales, etc.)
- Guidance counselors can develop a checklist regarding college alcohol policies to assist students and parents in their selection of schools.
Parents can also take this month to teach their children about alcohol by:
- Teaching their child that abstinence from alcohol is an acceptable lifelong decision
- Teaching their child that drinking can be risky and to intervene when they see that their classmates are in trouble.
- If they drink, be sure to set an ongoing healthy example regarding adult alcohol use
- When their children go to college, set clear and realistic expectations regarding academic performance.
For more ways to get involved with education and awareness during Alcohol Awareness month or throughout the year visit NCADD for an organizer’s guide if you’d like to create more awareness in your community.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use disorder, it’s important to be aware of the help that is available. Contact The Recovery Village today to learn how they can help you begin a path to recovery.