As of today, we find ourselves right smack-dab in the middle of Alcoholism Awareness Month, an event created by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence to empower everyday people to promote grass-roots awareness toward alcoholism in their communities. Alcoholism Awareness Month, along with other events like it, is an opportunity to pay a little more attention to a matter that many of us don’t have to consider on a daily basis, because we may not be directly affected by it. We may have heard some story about a friend’s distant relative who was hit by a drunk-driver or we may have an uncle on the other side of the country that we never see that’s in and out of rehab. The widespread nature of alcohol abuse and addiction in the United States means it may only be a matter of time before we’re all personally affected. Given this revelation, perhaps we need a little more than 30 days to raise awareness.
Let’s Talk Numbers
Alcoholism is the most common form of substance abuse in the United States. Over 30 percent of Americans have abused alcohol at some point in their lives. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that excessive alcohol use kills over 88,000 Americans each year and that direct alcohol poisoning kills six Americans per day. Nearly 40 percent of all incarcerated adults were drinking at the time of their offense. Nearly 20 million Americans suffer from an alcohol use disorder (AUD), many of whom live in a state of denial that stops them from getting the treatment they need to avoid hurting themselves or others.
Am I An Alcoholic?
Unfortunately alcoholism has a way of letting sufferers know they’re addicted whether they want to admit it or not, including job loss, financial struggle, DUI and destruction of families and quality of life. There are, however, some defined criteria established in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V). The newest version is different from it predecessors is different in the respect that it no longer distinguishes between alcohol abuse and addiction. The current guidelines cover the singular condition of alcohol use disorder and include:
* Drinking more, or longer, than intended
* Couldn’t stop drinking despite multiple attempts
* Singular preoccupation with drinking
* Decline in work or school performance due to alcohol
* Continuous drinking despite problems with friends and family
* Interference with lifestyle activities due to drinking
* Engagement in high-risk situations due to drinking
The reality is that many don’t even recognize they have a problem until they experience some life-altering catastrophe that forces them to see their situation for what it is and deal with it accordingly.
The lines are constantly getting blurred between acceptable and problematic drinking. Alcohol is different from drugs like heroin, cocaine and even marijuana because of its easy accessibility and legal status. For this reason, and many others, it’s imperative that we remain diligent throughout the whole year-not just in April-toward alcoholism in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Alcohol abuse robs sufferers of their sense of logic and it’s only often a mater of time before one person’s alcohol abuse becomes someone else’s broken bone, financial loss, hurt feelings or worse. This is something we should all remember on May 1.
Recovery Unplugged proudly supports Alcoholism Awareness Month and we encourage Americans everywhere to do their part to raise awareness regarding the dangers of alcohol abuse however they can. No contribution is too small, and you can make a difference, whether you believe it or not.