Alcohol is by far the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States. It’s legal for adults over the age of 21, and its widespread social acceptance means that many are able to hide that they have a problem. However, there’s no denying that the dangers of this substance are real; today, alcohol use disorder affects over 15 million people in the US alone. Thankfully, events like Alcohol Awareness Month have been created to build awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding this subject.
What is Alcohol Awareness Month?
Alcohol Awareness Month was established in 1987, founded and sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Today, that organization merged with another to create Facing Addiction with NCADD, but the mission of the month is the same: to reduce stigma and increase awareness of alcohol addiction. This is accomplished by educating the American public about alcoholism, its causes, effective treatment, and recovery. By spreading this information, Facing Addiction with NCADD hopes to begin breaking down barriers to treatment and recovery – specifically, the stigma and mystery surrounding alcohol use disorders.
Alcohol is incredibly common, legal for those who are of age, easy to obtain (from gas stations to grocery stores), and many people don’t think twice about it. In spite of this, there is still a large amount of stigma around alcohol use disorder. Many people have an unacknowledged bias against substance use disorders – they believe they’re moral failings, not a physical ailments or diseases. By shedding light on the myriad health and personal problems that heavy alcohol use can create, as well as how commonplace dependence on this substance is, we can encourage our friends and family to seek treatment.
How to Observe Alcohol Awareness Month
There are many ways to take part in Alcohol Awareness Month. One that Facing Addiction with NCADD recommends is participation in Alcohol-Free Weekend, which takes place on the first weekend of April. For the 5th through the 7th, all Americans are invited to abstain from alcohol for three full days. This event serves a dual purpose: first, it encourages discussion with friends and family about why you’re not drinking for the weekend, and opens up a broader conversation about alcohol use disorder nationwide. Additionally, a few days of abstention can be a good litmus test to see if you’re able to avoid drinking for a significant period of time. If you or a loved one has difficulty making it through the three days of Alcohol-Free Weekend, we encourage you to reach out to Vista Taos.
Signs of an Alcohol Use Disorder
We’ve compiled a list of alcohol use disorder symptoms from the Mayo Clinic, as well as a few signs from our experts; we hope that these are helpful to you. Please keep in mind that this is not a complete or exhaustive list – people may exhibit all of these signs or just a few of them.
Alcoholism exists on a spectrum, and may be mild, moderate, or severe. Your loved one may maintain relationships and career responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a problem. High-functioning alcoholics are characterized as having great “outside lives” – full-time careers, homes, families, and friendships – all while hiding their addiction. If you feel that these apply to yourself or someone you know, we encourage you to reach out at 575-586-3104 or via our confidential contact form.
- Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol consumed
- Wanting to cut down on how much they drink or making unsuccessful attempts to do so
- Spending a lot of time drinking, obtaining alcohol, or recovering from its use
- Lying about drinking habits
- Feeling strong cravings or urges to drink alcohol to get through the day
- Failing to fulfill major obligations at work, home, or school because of repeated alcohol use – alcohol comes first before important responsibilities
- Continuing to drink even though they know it’s causing physical, social, or interpersonal problems
- Spending money on alcohol that should be used for necessities
- Giving up or reducing social / work activities or hobbies
- Using alcohol in unsafe situations (while driving or swimming) or inappropriate times (early in the morning or at work)
- Developing a tolerance to alcohol so that they need more to feel its effect
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms (nausea, sweating, shaking, anxiety) when they don’t drink, or drinking to avoid those symptoms
- Treating loved ones in ways they wouldn’t sober (yelling, becoming violent, or using hateful language)
- Regularly drinking until experiencing memory loss
Resources and Help for Alcoholism
If you or a loved one has experienced any of the symptoms outlined above, we encourage you to reach out to our qualified team, available 24/7. Recovery from alcoholism is difficult to achieve alone, especially because underlying issues and intense withdrawal symptoms often come into play to complicate the process. As individuals, we’re often not equipped to face these things on our own. Those who seek professional help have better outcomes and receive exceptional, individualized care in a therapeutically rich environment.
You can speak to any of our compassionate team members at 575-586-3104, or by submitting a fully confidential contact request. We strive to help you discover a new perspective of the world. One that is happy, healthy, and free from addiction.