Alcohol addiction is a disease that changes the way the brain works as it causes emotions, impulsive behavior, cravings and withdrawal symptoms and also increases people’s risk of injuries, drowning, liver disease, and some types of cancer. AlcoRehab estimates that approximately 14 million people in the United States fall under the criteria of severe alcohol use disorders (AUD). On average, more than 88,000 deaths annually are attributed to alcoholism. This makes alcohol prevention a priority. Alcohol Awareness Month is observed in April to help reduce the stigma around the alcohol addiction. The goal is to increase awareness and understanding of alcohol addiction, its causes, effective treatment, and recovery, decrease misunderstandings that pose barriers to treatment and recovery, and make help more readily available to those affected.
Alcohol addiction is a chronic, progressive disease, genetically predisposed and fatal if untreated. The good news is that people can and do recover. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 20 million individuals and family members are living lives in recovery from alcohol use.
This year’s theme is “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow” which is aimed at educating people about the treatment and prevention of alcohol addiction, particularly the youth. Young adulthood and adolescence is a critical period in the vulnerability to substance use and use disorders because the brain undergoes significant developmental changes during this life stage, making it particularly vulnerable to substance exposure.
April 5-7, 2019 will be observed as Alcohol-Free Weekend to raise public awareness about the use of alcohol and how it may be affecting individuals, families, businesses and communities. Awareness of how damaging alcohol can be to the body and to your health is the key to changing your behavior before it’s too late. Approaches that parents and caregivers could adopt to encourage youth to avoid drinking include:
- Teach teenagers how to avoid alcohol and say no
- Discuss important facts (such as alcohol abuse statistics) about alcohol with youngsters
- Communicate the consequences of drinking and enforce them consistently
- If the teenager is already into drinking, monitor their alcohol use in the home and keep track of the stock
- Move away from Internal and external triggering factors that can leave you craving a drink.
- Keep alcoholic drinks out of your house
- Don’t permit unaccompanied parties
- As a parent or mentor, set a good example by drinking in moderation and show teenagers there are healthy ways to deal with stress
- Encourage healthy friendships with teenagers who do not drink, as surrounding yourself with people of positive influence and those that build your confidence is hugely important
- As many drink to overcome the stress and anxiety, so talk about other ways to deal with peer pressure
The school and community can also take part in such alcohol prevention with the following measures:
- Use interactive teaching to educate youth about the dangers of drinking
- Appoint leaders from the peer group to reinforce prevention messages
- Involve parents and the community in alcoholism prevention initiatives for the youth
As stopping alcoholism is a gradual process which takes time, you should start by cutting down on the drinks you take per day or week and work on a practical prevention schedule The best way to avoid alcohol poisoning is by taking water in between your drinks.
Alcoholism is a disorder and sometimes, during treatment and recovery people might need professional support. Depending on the stage of alcoholism, therapists can help families share the mental and emotional burden of supporting alcohol abuse family members.