April is Alcohol Awareness Month, a good time to reflect on our drinking patterns and the role that alcohol plays in our lives.
Most adults in the United States who drink alcohol drink moderately and without complications. At the same time, alcohol-related problems are among the most significant public health issues in the country. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) affects about 15 million adults in the United States, and an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the nation.
How do you know if drinking alcohol has become a problem for you or a loved one? And where do you go for help if it has?
One way is to learn more about AUD. AUD is a medical diagnosis that ranges from moderate to severe, with the severity based on several criteria. But, briefly, alcohol becomes a problem when it impacts your life in a negative way. For example, is your personal or work life deteriorating because of your drinking? Have you had times when you drank more, or longer, than you intended? Are you drinking to feel better? Are you drinking to cope with stress or other problems? Do you feel anxious or irritable without a drink? For more information about the criteria for AUD, see https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/dsmfactsheet/dsmfact.htm
If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself, it’s time to rethink the role that alcohol plays in your life. NIAAA has some interactive resources to help you examine your drinking patterns further and, if needed, recognize and search for quality care.
As I discussed in my previous blog post
, NIAAA also has an important new website that can help you navigate the often complicated process of choosing treatment for alcohol problems.
The NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator
helps you search for professionally led, evidence-based alcohol treatment. It is a comprehensive, yet easy-to-use, tool. Many treatment options are available, and the Navigator makes the search easier by telling you what you need to know–and what you need to do–to find appropriate, quality care nearby. It is available at https://alcoholtreatment.niaaa.nih.gov
During Alcohol Awareness Month, please review our website
to learn more about how NIAAA supports research and initiatives to generate and disseminate fundamental knowledge about the effects of alcohol on health and well-being, and how we apply that knowledge to improve the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of alcohol-related problems. I also encourage you to take a close look at Rethinking Drinking
and the Alcohol Treatment Navigator
to learn more about AUD and how to find quality care to address it.