Alcohol Awareness Month: A Guide to Receiving Help
Research by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that more than 15 million American adults in the United States have an alcohol use disorder (AUD), which is linked to approximately 95,000 deaths each year. This information proves that the disease of addiction is more prevalent than ever. After all, alcoholism is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the country.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, which is a public health program intended to raise public awareness and understanding of the dangers of alcoholism and the many risk factors attributed to alcohol consumption. This program began in April of 1987 through the auspices of the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD) and was initially targeting college-aged students believed to be drinking too much.
This is the common conception for young adults who have achieved a certain degree of newfound freedom. This program has since become a national movement to draw more attention to the dangerous effects of alcoholism and to help families and even communities deal with problems related to drinking.
This is why all over the United States during April, information campaigns and advertisements are run on both traditional channels and on social media that encourage people to become educated more about what alcohol does to the brain and body. This includes what the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse are, how to talk to people who might have an alcohol problem, and how to find treatment.
Why Do So Many People Drink Alcohol?
Medical professionals, therapists, and even lawmakers all over the US are looking into the most prominent reasons why so many people get into alcohol and become so dependent on it for the rest of their lives. The reasons are massively diverse and could be based on huge differences based on location, age, preferences, and other factors. The most common reasons include:
Stress is the leading reason why so many people are getting into the drink. People going through a very stressful day typically find comfort in the relative numbing sensation given by alcohol, which is the onset of inebriation.
This reason has also largely been cited as one of the main reasons why so many also get into drug addiction. The way that culture has been shaping up, with the younger generation driving trends that value instant gratification over actually working hard and waiting for something, so too needs to find instant relief from stress.
Older generations typically got into alcohol at the end of the day to wind down the tension accumulated at work and also as a reward for working hard. As the succeeding generations started to experience greater amounts of daily stress, so too did the need for alcohol begin to escalate.
With each generation becoming less inclined to work harder to find actual solutions to stress, the dependence on alcohol to relieve stress became more commonplace. However, it’s important to remember that alcohol dependency is a serious issue, and seeking medical detox in Houston is crucial for breaking the cycle of dependence.
As with everything that is attached to humanity, the concept of stress also seemingly evolved throughout the years. Today, stress is one of the forerunners of numerous anxiety disorders, as more and more mental health issues plague the current generation. Much like the effects that alcohol has on those looking to relieve pent-up stress, numbness also does wonders for someone who is suffering from anxiety-related issues.
Although both mental health specialists and physicians are saying that alcohol is not a cure for anxiety in young adults, and may only serve to exacerbate it, many still take to the bottle to drown out their anxieties.
The association of alcohol or substance abuse with anxiety has become so prevalent that there is already a running debate on whether alcoholism is one of the reasons for developing an anxiety disorder, or if anxiety is one of the reasons why a person becomes an alcoholic. Regardless of the true reason, alcohol continues to be the go-to solution when a person feels like their anxiety is so great they could drown in it.
In almost every social setting in the country, alcohol is readily available. It could be found in inaugurations, celebrations, and even in situations where people gather but do not celebrate, such as at funerals. The omnipresence of alcohol has led to it becoming one of the most enduring social devices to figure out throughout the years. American history is rife with the presence of alcohol, such as the Prohibition Era from 1920 to 1933, where select groups sought to supposedly curb the ills of society by blaming it on a physical influence, which was alcohol.
The constant presence of alcohol in almost all segments of life practically guaranteed that people would have it constantly in their minds. Add to this the fact that creative strategies in advertising and shrewd marketing campaigns also made sure that consumers would buy the alcoholic beverages being featured.
Alcohol, alongside the tobacco industry, is among the largest revenue generators known in the business, which also guarantees that these products will not be leaving the public eye anytime soon. While alcohol can be enjoyed responsibly, it’s important to remember that excessive consumption can lead to serious health problems, including addiction. Seeking treatment and individual therapy for addiction is crucial for those who struggle with dependency.
The environment is held to be among the top influencers in a person’s life, particularly during the developmental years. It is even said that if a person is exposed to a specific environmental stimulus enough, even concepts that are considered social, ethical, and moral taboos would become commonplace.
Even though some people would consider this as just stereotyping, many people who grew up in a family or neighborhood that saw a high incidence of alcohol consumption, there is a high likelihood that the exposed person would be inclined to drink, and possibly even become an alcoholic in short order.
Even for those who have proven to be strong-willed enough to not be easily influenced by their environment, the constant presence of alcohol is often more than enough to pique their curiosity. It is this curiosity that now drives them to try alcohol and see why so many people around are so into the drink. Much like what curiosity about drugs often results in, curiosity about alcohol is likely to open the gateway to alcoholism for many people.
Alcohol is among the most readily available items in the market today. It could even be bought in 24-hour convenience stores, and in many areas, it is far easier to get than a cup of coffee. The business industry is largely to blame for this, as alcohol is a massive revenue driver.
By making it easier to acquire, those that are in the business of manufacturing, distributing, and selling alcohol are guaranteed an income. Even the measures supposedly put in place to ensure that minors are not allowed to purchase alcohol become ineffective to those crafty enough.
It also doesn’t help that some of the best and most creative minds in advertising and marketing keep thinking up ways to ensure that consumers keep on purchasing the products that they are putting out into the market. They have even created a scenario where alcohol, already viewed as a reward by some, would also come with another reward, which comes in the form of the promos and marketing pushes that flood the public.
Peer pressure is held to be the most prominent reason why so many start drinking alcohol at a young age. Many youngsters are often goaded into drinking through peer pressure, and those that apply the pressure are not even hiding the fact that the goal of the exercise is to get as many young people to drink as possible.
The young adults under peer pressure are told that they need to drink to be let into the social circles that they crave to be part of, while in other instances, young individuals are dared into proving that they are brave enough to engage in an age-related taboo, which is drinking.
The sad fact about peer pressure being a driver to get young people to drink is that it is immensely effective. Very few people can resist the lure of alcohol in this manner, and soon enough, the young victims have already developed a taste for alcohol and they bring it with them to their professional years. Some might argue that this might not be such a bad thing as early exposure to alcohol could also mean that these people get to learn how to control the habit early on as well, although the sheer number of alcohol-related injuries and accidents among the younger population disproves this notion.
Many people who suffer from the adverse symptoms of mental health disorders would typically be more than willing to try anything just to not feel these symptoms anymore. This is one of the reasons why so many who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) become such heavy drinkers that they often end up homeless alcoholics.
In other instances, people who have enough cognitive function to understand the stigma that comes with having a mental health issue will try to self-medicate. Much like the numbing effect that stressed people like about alcohol, many people afflicted with mental health issues also find comfort in the inebriation that alcohol produces, as it becomes the predominant feeling they have instead of the adverse symptoms of their mental health disorder.
Alcohol is one of the fastest ways to lose one’s inhibitions. This is why so many women regret having drunk so much during a night out, particularly when they wake up in a strange bed with someone whose name they could not even remember. For men looking to have the confidence to talk to someone they are interested in, alcohol could be the confidence booster they are looking for, provided it does not also affect how they conduct themselves. More often than not, however, the same thing that gives them confidence also makes them unlikable people.
It is not uncommon for binge drinkers to become so uninhibited that they behave in an inappropriate, embarrassing, and deplorable manner. There are many instances that people display a completely different personality once they have had too much to drink. People who are mostly liked by everyone could turn into someone that is highly likely to cause someone to call the police.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction?
Mental health providers make use of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses, also known as the DSM-5, which is the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s professional reference book on mental health and brain-related conditions, to identify certain behavioral and psychological markers that are associated with specific disorders. Relevant to having an alcohol use disorder, some symptoms to watch out for include:
- Feeling powerless to control one’s level of alcohol use
- Declining to engage in social activities or hobbies that used to be of interest
- Having the desire to stop or decrease drinking but being unable to do so
- Using alcohol in high-risk situations, such as while swimming or driving
- Devoting significant time and resources to drinking
- Developing a tolerance for alcohol (i.e., needing more alcohol over time to match the feelings from earlier use)
- Experiencing cravings for alcohol when not drinking
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking (e.g., cravings, sweating, shaking, and nausea)
- Facing problems at work, home, or school because of alcohol use
- In reaction to the discomfort associated with withdrawal, having to drink to feel better
- Continuing to use alcohol even when it is leading to a social, physical, relationship, and personal problems
These markers help determine if a person is indeed well within the territory of alcohol addiction. Once identified, a suitable outpatient rehab or residential treatment in Houston may then be prescribed for the person.
Luna Recovery Can Help You Find the Best Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
Seeing someone suffering from a heavy dependence is never easy. What makes it even more difficult is the fact that the dependence is preventable. This, however, does not mean that recovery is impossible. We’ve helped so many people back on the path to recovery and sobriety. We could help you too. Talk to us now.
Dr. Allaire received his Bachelors of Science in Biology from the University of Houston, as Valedictorian of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and his Medical Doctorate from Baylor College of Medicine, where he served as Chief Resident. He is the medical monitor for the Physician Counseling Committee of the Harris County Medical Society and the Medical Director of Serenity House Detox. Dr. Allaire specializes in medically assisted detox cases, treating patients in recovery from addiction or other mental health disorders, the medical assessment and monitoring of patients with addictive disorders, medical care related to eating disorders and the medical treatment of patients with mental health conditions.