April is Alcohol Awareness Month — a time to raise awareness about the health and social problems caused by excessive drinking. Alcohol Awareness Month also offers people the opportunity to evaluate their own drinking and determine if they need to change their habits.

Most people have a general sense of the negative impact of high-risk drinking, but may not realize how widespread and extensive the consequences are. Each year, nearly 80,000 people die from alcohol-related causes, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Alcohol problems cost the U.S. $225 billion each year, primarily from lost productivity, but also from health care and property damage costs. These issues affect every American, regardless of whether they drink or not.

Most adults who drink do so responsibly with no harm to their health. In fact, for some people, drinking moderately is associated with a variety of potential health benefits including a decreased risk of coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and certain types of strokes.

Nevertheless, more than 30 percent of U.S. adults will meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder at some point during their lives. The term “alcohol use disorder” includes both alcoholism and harmful drinking that has not reached the level of dependence.

Alcohol-related problems — which result from drinking too much, too fast, or too often — are among the most significant public health issues in the United States.

  • An estimated 18 million Americans have an alcohol use disorder.
  • One in four children grows up in a home with an adult who has a problem with alcohol, and
  • Only one in four people with alcoholism ever receives treatment, which increases the likelihood of long-term recovery.

Globally, alcohol is the third leading risk factor for premature death and disability.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is dedicated to understanding why some people develop alcohol use disorders and how we can improve prevention, treatment, and recovery programs for these individuals.

NIAAA recommends that Americans use Alcohol Awareness Month, which the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has sponsored since 1987, as an opportunity to evaluate their own drinking. The NIAAA website offers the public:

If you find that you’re drinking outside the recommended limits, cutting back or quitting can have significant health benefits. By reducing high-risk drinking, you decrease your risk of injuries, liver and heart disease, sleep disorders, depression, stroke, sexually transmitted diseases, and several types of cancers.

 

More Resources:

www.niaaa.nih.gov

www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov

SAMHSA Treatment Locator: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov