Alcoholism is a chronic and progressive disease that can be fatal if not treated. April was established as the month to focus on alcohol awareness by The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) beginning in 1987.
The goal of Alcohol Awareness Month is to educate the public, increase awareness, encourage people to reach out to the public with information about alcoholism and recovery and to help reduce the stigma that is often associated with the disease of alcoholism.
The Impact of Stigma on Alcoholism Recovery
Alcohol is a powerful, highly addicting drug. In our society, drinking is very socially acceptable, but some people become physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol and are unable to stop using it without help.
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Many people think of an alcoholic as someone who lives on the street, drinking hard liquor out of a paper bag, or a person who is at the bar every night, but these are extreme examples and not typical of all alcoholics. There are many variations and degrees of alcoholism, and many people are able to live seemingly functional lives in spite of being dependent on alcohol.
An alcoholic continues to drink in spite of negative consequences, such as job loss, relationship problems or legal problems. Knowing there is a stigma attached to being called an alcoholic stops many people from trying to get the help they need to recover.
The theme of Alcohol Awareness Month in 2018 is “Changing Attitudes – It’s not a rite of passage.” Throughout the month of April, there will be many events at local, state and national levels that will make an effort to educate people about the prevention and treatment of alcoholism.
It’s especially important that it be communicated to young people that drinking is not a rite of passage. Parents play a large role in teaching kids that drinking irresponsibly can have a huge negative impact on their lives. Organizations including churches, schools and colleges will sponsor many different activities to communicate the danger of alcohol abuse and addiction and to encourage people who have alcohol-related problems to get help.
A Weekend with No Alcohol
During the first weekend of April, the public is encouraged to participate in Alcohol-Free Weekend. This is a weekend in which the NCADD encourages all citizens to live completely alcohol-free for three full days.
Some people may find that trying to go 72 hours without alcohol is much more difficult than expected. Anyone who experiences uncomfortable symptoms during this time or is unable to make it through the three days without picking up a drink is encouraged to contact Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Al-Anon or local affiliates of NCADD.
Raising Awareness of Alcohol and Alcohol Dependence
During Alcohol Awareness Month, you can get involved spreading information about the use and misuse of alcohol. Taking action to prevent alcohol abuse can help to save lives. Information about Alcohol Awareness Month and alcohol use and abuse can also be spread through social media. Tweet information about how to know if you are an alcoholic and tips for drinking in moderation.
If you are a parent, start by talking to your own kids, and reinforce the fact that drinking is not a rite of passage. It isn’t required to fit in with others and they don’t have to drink to have a good time. If you have friends or family members that drink heavily or seem to rely on alcohol to socialize or settle their nerves, encourage them to talk to a doctor or addiction professional.
The more knowledge people have about the dangers of using alcohol and becoming dependent on it, the more they are likely to ask for help if they need to. The good news is that it is possible to recover from alcoholism and to live a good life without alcohol. It all starts with realizing and admitting that drinking has gotten out of control.