Awareness for Alcohol Use Problems & Treatments
April is Alcohol Awareness Month. This was developed to raise awareness and understanding of the causes and treatment of alcoholism, one of the country’s top public health issues. Alcohol is the most used substance by both youth and adults in the U.S. The consequences of drinking can affect everyone and poses enormous health and safety risks.
While some adults may be able to enjoy an occasional glass of wine or mixed drink at home, drinking too much can cause significant short and long-term health problems. This includes a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, digestive problems, and even types of cancer.
Binge drinking and heavy alcohol use are problematic. Some indicators of risky or excessive use include drinking more or longer than you intend, not being able to cut down or stop drinking when you want, finding that drinking often interferes with daily activities, loved ones have made comments about your drinking, and more. One may even experience physical symptoms of withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal include shakiness, sweating, tremors, headaches, anxiety, irritability, and/or insomnia.
Monitoring your alcohol use can help you prevent risky drinking. This may look like setting and keeping a daily/weekly drinking limit, pacing your drinking, asking a friend who does not drink to help you stay within your limit, and recording how much you drink.
You might think that alcohol helps you cope with stress, but it is not a good coping mechanism, as it is known to increase the symptoms of panic and anxiety disorders, depression and other mental disorders, and the risk of family and domestic violence. Even with moderate drinking, one should take caution that alcohol is not being used to cope with stress, anxiety, or boredom.
It is also important to talk to the youth in your life about the dangers of alcohol and underage drinking. According to the CDC youth who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependency or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21. Adults can play a big role in shaping young people’s attitudes towards drinking. Talk to the youth in your life about the dangers of drinking, drinking responsibly, have regular conversations about life, and encourage participation in healthy, fun activities that do not involve alcohol.
For Alcohol Awareness Month try choosing an alcohol-free weekend. Stop drinking from Friday through Monday and gauge the effects of the alcohol-free days. If one’s body has become used to the continual presence of alcohol, stopping suddenly may cause physical symptoms such as sweating, nausea, headaches, or difficulty sleeping. If it is difficult to manage 72 hours without drinking, that struggle may indicate a dependence that should be more closely looked at and treated.
If you or someone you know is struggling and needs additional support and resources call our local addiction helpline at 330-678-3006.