April 19, 2019 By Dr. Todd Thatcher, DO, CMO The Importance of Alcohol Awareness Are you aware that the Centers for Disease Control reported that in 2016, more teenagers were killed by alcohol than all other drugs combined? Did you know that the National Cancer Institute has listed alcohol as a cause of several types of cancer including head and neck, esophageal, liver, breast, and colorectal? Are you aware that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2017 10,874 people died in drunk driving accidents in the United States? Did you know there is help available to escape from this terrible disease? Substance abuse and addiction such as alcoholism can be surprisingly common, but there are many ways you can help yourself and others by taking some extra time to consider alcohol and its impact on your life. There’s no better time to start than the present, and since April is Alcohol Awareness Month, it can be a great time to put some extra time into facing the impact alcohol has. Here are seven ways you can recognize Alcohol Awareness Month. 1. Be Informed A lot of people have an idea of what alcoholism is, but they may not know a lot about the true extent of the addiction. One of the best ways you can equip yourself to make a difference is to educate yourself about substance abuse and alcoholism and how it can be prevented and cured. There are many reliable sources that you can use to do research. Websites of organizations that inform or help people recover from alcoholism can be a good place to start. Government websites or health professionals are also generally reliable sources of information. You don’t need to spend a huge amount of time doing research. Even taking just a few minutes to learn some new things can be incredibly beneficial. 2. Inform Others There can be a lot of stereotypes that surround the idea of someone being an alcoholic, but these are often unproductive and distract from the fact that almost anyone can suffer from the adverse effects of alcoholism. Using tools such as social media to spread awareness about substance abuse and Alcohol Awareness Month to your friends and family can help them to be informed about it too. While you should always try to stay as polite and positive as possible, sharing some extra support to help those who have been hurt by alcoholism can make a real difference. 3. Attend Events You can often find events and activities being offered in your local area by organizations that are working to solve alcoholism and treat addiction in the lives of people. Attending these types of events can often be fun, educational, and beneficial to people who need help. Depending on the event, it could be a fun way to spend time with friends or family while also supporting the cause. Making donations at events is often another good way to contribute, but is not always necessary. 4. Spend Time Alcohol Free Alcohol is commonly incorporated into social events, but choosing to go alcohol-free for a few days can be a great way to recognize Alcohol Awareness Month while also giving some attention to your health. You can dedicate yourself to spending a weekend, a week, or even an entire month without alcohol. Going alcohol-free for a few days can help you gauge your level of alcohol dependence. You may find that it is either harder or easier than you expected to quit drinking for some time. To stick to your goal, it can help if you find a group of friends or family to participate with you so that you can all support each other. You will find that you can have just as much fun, if not more, spending time with the people you care about and doing things you love while staying alcohol-free. 5. Donate Donating money or time can be a great way to help solve alcohol-related issues. It can be important that you make sure that any donations you make are going to a reliable organization that has the best interests of people that need help in mind. Donating your time can also occasionally be an option. Many events and activities that are put on by alcohol awareness organizations rely on volunteers to help run things. You can look into the different opportunities to donate money, time, or both to find something that is a good fit for you. 6. Talk to Your Kids Perhaps one of the most important places for you to make a difference during Alcohol Awareness Month is with your own immediate family. Underage drinking can be a huge risk that opens the door to alcoholism later in life. Alcohol can turn into a major addiction that is very hard to quit. Prevention is the best strategy to avoid it. Taking some time to sit down with your kids and talk to them about the risks of alcohol may not be the most fun thing to do, but it can make a huge difference in their lives. Even if you feel like they aren’t listening to you, it generally makes a bigger impact on kids than you may think to discuss the issue with them for at least a few minutes. 7. Help a Loved One If you notice the symptoms of alcoholism in a friend or family member you care about, it can sometimes be hard to know what to do. While it can often be a sensitive thing to discuss, helping someone that you know is in need is always worth it. There are a lot of resources you can turn to for help. Getting other family members involved can occasionally be beneficial, but one of the best ideas can be to try and encourage the individual to get professional help at a substance abuse treatment center. There can be a lot of in-depth resources online about how to do this in the best way possible. Looking into the specific measures you should take can be a vital first step to offering aid. Recognizing Alcohol Awareness Month This April Alcoholism and substance abuse issues can affect anyone and individuals are not at fault for having an addiction. Alcohol Awareness Month is the perfect opportunity to dedicate some time to face the issue and help those suffering from alcoholism. Every little bit of effort you put in to understand, prevent, and cure alcoholism can make a huge difference. Don’t worry if you don’t have massive amounts of time to give, as doing just a little bit is still many times better than doing nothing. Try doing some of the activities listed above or others that can help you, your family, and your friends to take a stand against alcoholism and promote alcohol awareness. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse addiction, it’s important to find treatment. Here at Valley Behavioral Health, our trained specialists offer individualized care for anyone struggling with addiction. We believe in creating positive change and growth through constant communication and observation. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options and find happiness again.