Alcohol Awareness Month was founded in 1987 by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, or NCADD. The purpose of Alcohol Awareness Month is to reduce the stigma associated with alcohol use disorder and spread information about alcohol, alcohol use disorder, and recovery. It’s especially important that people be aware that alcohol use disorder is a chronic, progressive disease, typically involving a genetic predisposition. It’s even more important that people be aware alcohol use disorder can be effectively treated and that millions of people live happy lives in recovery.
This year’s Alcohol Awareness Month theme is “Changing Attitudes: It’s Not a ‘Rite of Passage.’” The idea is to educate young people on the dangers of alcohol and dispel the idea that drinking is grown-up or sophisticated. To do this, NCADD affiliates will partner with schools, colleges, churches, and other community organizations to sponsor activities that spread awareness and encourage people to seek help for alcohol use disorder. The first weekend in April will be an alcohol-free weekend. Anyone can participate as a way to spread awareness of alcohol-related problems. If you find it difficult to make it through the weekend without drinking, it may be a sign you need help.
Because alcohol is so common, most people underestimate its dangers. Alcohol is involved in an estimated 88,000 deaths in the US every year. These include deaths from health issues such as liver disease, heart disease, and certain cancers as well as accidents. Alcohol is implicated in about half of fatal car accidents in the US. Another 2200 or so Americans also die each year from alcohol poisoning. Alcohol is also frequently involved in domestic violence, risky sex, and other reckless behaviors.
In accordance with the theme of this year’s Alcohol Awareness Month, it’s worth thinking about the messages you send your kids about alcohol use. The best predictor of whether someone will develop alcohol use disorder is whether one of her parents have alcohol use disorder. This is because there is a strong genetic component, but also because kids learn from their parents’ example. Children of parents who drink heavily often assume that heavy alcohol consumption is normal, and they are more likely to start drinking at a younger age. Parents who want to discourage problem drinking in their kids should start by setting a good example. It’s also important to talk to kids from a young age about the problems caused by excessive drinking, especially of driving drunk. Typically, by the time kids reach adolescence, they are more interested in what their friends are doing than what their parents say, so it’s important to talk to them early.
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