Look on any awareness months calendar to find out what April brings, and you’ll see it’s Alcohol Awareness Month. This is an important issue because alcoholism is a prevalent problem in the United States. In fact, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) shared statistics about alcohol consumption and alcoholism which should cause concern.
- Over one-fourth of people who are 18 years old or up reported that they had at least one instance of binge drinking in the previous month in 2015
- More than 15 million people over the age of 17 were diagnosed with Alcohol Use Disorder
- Over 600,000 people between the ages of 12 and 17 were diagnosed with Alcohol Use Disorder
- 31 percent of all driving fatalities in 2014 occurred because of alcohol impairment
These statistics are staggering, and yet, alcohol is part of many celebrations and events. Whether at a wedding reception, happy hour for a business seminar or a few beers with a backyard barbeque, alcohol is used to celebrate friendships and fun. However, not everyone can enjoy these activities while drinking in moderation.
April’s focus follows on the heels of the National Impaired Driving Prevention Month which is in December on the awareness calendar. Together, along with other events held throughout the year, these events can bring even more attention to the dangers of alcoholism as well as to drinking and driving.
History Behind Alcohol Awareness Month
Alcohol Awareness Month has been around since 1987. It was founded by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD). The goal was to encourage communities to reach out with information about alcoholism and recovery to reduce the stigma behind the condition.
Having an awareness month for alcohol allows communities to create opportunities to educate people about the subject and to bring awareness to the issue. This is a time to deal with myths and to face the myths that often come with the idea of alcoholism and ideas about who can become an alcoholic. The purpose is to encourage more people to recognize the problem and to seek out treatment for recovery.
The NCADD and Alcohol Awareness Month
The NCADD continues to lead the attention for April through various media opportunities and campaigns as well as providing programs and special events in local communities.
The theme for 2018 is Changing Attitudes: It’s Not a ‘Rite of Passage’ which will focus among other things on educating the youth about the dangers of alcohol. Elementary and high schools as well as colleges and universities will host special activities along with churches and other organizations within the communities.
One of the main events for the month is Alcohol-Free Weekend. The first weekend of April is designated as a time when people who are willing to participate make the promise to go without any alcohol for three days. If anyone has difficulty with this event and alcohol withdrawal, they can contact the local NCADD affiliate to learn more about the symptoms of alcoholism and how to receive treatment. One of the goals of the Alcohol-Free Weekend is to help people identify the possibility of alcohol use disorder or alcohol addiction. The hope is that 2018 will build on alcohol awareness month 2017 and previous years to educate and inspire people who are affected by alcoholism.
How You Can Get Involved in Alcohol Awareness Month 2018
While it’s important to know alcohol awareness facts, it means nothing if you don’t get involved. No matter what you do or whether you know someone with an alcohol problem, you can have an impact during this alcohol awareness month. Here are a few ways the average person can get involved and make a difference.
Talk to Your Kids about Alcohol
Many parents never talk to their kids about alcohol or they wait until they’re teenagers and already experimenting. If you’ve never had a talk with your kids on this subject, April is the ideal time to do it. Set aside a time when you won’t be interrupted and you and the kids aren’t busy rushing off to a game or other activity. Realize that your kids will be exposed to alcohol, and it’s your job to educate them ahead of time and prepare them for the correct action.
Whether your kids are teens, preteens or even younger, you can have this conversation. What you say will vary based on their ages, but it’s important to start early. Even elementary age kids are being offered alcoholic drinks.
Don’t just spout facts at your kids or tell them “don’t drink.” Instead, create an environment where they can talk to you as well as you talking to them. Discuss how some people like to drink to help them relax or to get over being nervous. Talk about how that situation can make things worse and come up with better ways to deal with those issues.
If you have teens, convey the importance of not drinking and driving and not riding with someone who does it. Explain that they may be around alcohol if they go to parties or hang out with friends. Discuss what they should do in these situations. It’s important to let them contribute and not just tell them what you expect them to do.
If alcoholism runs in your family or you have a family member who is an alcoholic, you may need to explain the genetics behind this condition. Your kids, particularly teens, need to understand that they are a greater risk for alcohol addiction and to learn to recognize the signs of alcoholism.
Review Your Own Alcohol Use
You may not consider yourself an alcoholic, and in fact, you may have no problem “handling your alcohol.” However, Alcohol Awareness Month is about being aware, so you should think about how much you drink and how you drink.
- Do you drink at parties or to relax when you come after a hard day at work?
- Do you drink before a big event when you’re feeling nervous?
- Have you noticed that you drink more often than you once did?
Consider whether you’ve been drunk in the past month. Do you have a limit on how much you’ll drink? Have you gone over that limit? You also want to think about whether you have driven home after consuming alcohol. Even if you feel fine, you could be impaired.
If you discover some habits regarding alcohol that are concerning, you may need to seek help. Even if you don’t think you need assistance, you might want to make some changes to your lifestyle. Determine to become more educated about the impact of alcohol so you can help your own kids and others.
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Get the Word Out
Even if you have no issues with alcohol in your life or with your kids, you may know someone who is an alcoholic or at least someone who makes bad decisions when alcohol is part of the equation. During Alcohol Awareness Month it is an ideal time to get involved and educate others.
Talk to the local NCADD affiliate about events near you and invite a friend. Spread the message by sharing posts on Facebook or another social network. If you’re a teacher, you can share different tips with parents to help them talk to their own kids. If you’re in the medical field, you can provide information about alcohol to patients along with alcohol treatment options.
Take it a step further and host your own event during April. There are several alcohol awareness event ideas that don’t take a lot of work. Ask schools if you can come in and speak to their kids. Go to churches or other organizations and offer to have a meeting on the subject. Find out if you can rent a booth at another local event and hand out brochures. You can find printable self-awareness worksheets to give to people that will help them discover if they have a problem with alcohol. It doesn’t have to be a big event or take a lot of planning. Just get involved.
If you’re a recovering alcoholic, you may think you don’t have a right to speak up and tell others how to handle alcohol. But your message may be even more important than just providing alcohol awareness information, and people are more likely to listen to you. Just tell your story, and it will help others feel brave enough to speak up as well.
The stigma behind alcoholism is real, which causes many people to attempt to hide their problems rather than seeking help. Alcohol Awareness Month can bring attention to the dangers of alcoholism and encourage people to seek out help. It can also work to prevent others from developing alcohol-related issues.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month 2018. Make it a big month to raise awareness of this issue and encourage more people to seek help and others to avoid the pitfalls of alcoholism. You can make a difference in your community if you’re willing to take action and be part of this great event.