Why September is Especially Important to Alcohol Research
September is a significant month for the alcohol field for two reasons: it’s the month dedicated to raising awareness about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and to celebrating recovery from alcohol and other substance use disorders.
FASD refers to an array of lifelong physical, cognitive, and behavioral problems caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. These adverse effects can range from mild to severe and contribute to a variety of issues such as learning disabilities, speech and language delays, visual and hearing problems, problems with vital organs, and social challenges throughout a person’s life. FASD often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. FASD Awareness Month was established to bring attention to the importance of prevention. It also is an opportunity to remind everyone that there is no known safe level of alcohol use, or time to drink, during pregnancy.
This September is also the 30th anniversary of Recovery Month, a time to increase awareness and understanding of alcohol and other substance use disorders. Nearly 15 million people in the U.S. have alcohol use disorder (AUD), a medical term that comprises health conditions commonly described previously as alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, and alcoholism. Most people with AUD can benefit from treatment and recovery is possible; however, the road to recovery is not the same for everyone. What may work for one person with AUD may not be a good fit for someone else—and setbacks are often part of the process.
To help people find quality, evidence-based treatment, NIAAA provides the NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator. The Navigator has information on evidence-based treatment options and tips on how to recognize the signs of quality care as well as how to search for a health care provider in one’s area that delivers treatment rooted in scientific evidence. The Navigator also has a portal for health care providers to assist them in referring their patients to evidence-based treatment.
Throughout the month, please join me in recognizing these important events. FASD is entirely preventable, so help me spread the word about the importance of avoiding prenatal alcohol exposure. And if you or a loved one think alcohol is causing a problem in your life and you want to learn more about alcohol treatment, I encourage you to check out the Alcohol Treatment Navigator. It’s a one-stop shop that tells you what you need to know and what you need to do to find quality care.
Best wishes, GFK
Need Help for an Alcohol Problem?
If you’re having an emergency, call 911. If you are having suicidal thoughts, call 911, go to the nearest emergency room or call the toll-free, 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to help you through this difficult time.
The NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator can help you recognize and find high quality treatment for alcohol use disorder. If you drink excessively, seek medical help to plan a safe recovery as sudden abstinence can be life threatening. NIAAA’s Rethinking Drinking can help you assess your drinking habits and provides information to help you cut back or stop drinking.