In 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) founded Alcohol Awareness Month, an opportunity to increase awareness and understanding of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. These are often misunderstood disorders that affect tens of millions of Americans each year. Unfortunately, many Americans who suffer from alcohol use problems face social stigma, a fear of getting treatment, and a lack of education about the true dangers of alcoholism.
Fortunately, however, Alcohol Awareness Month is growing in size and scope every year, as schools, churches, government agencies, and other organizations contribute more resources and develop more educational programs. These efforts will help ensure that Americans of all ages and demographics better understand the scope and danger of alcohol abuse is the U.S., and positive steps they can take against it, at home, at school, at work, and in their communities at large.
In light of the powerful, educational, and important nature of Alcohol Awareness Month 2017, here are 5 essential facts about the dangerous role that alcohol abuse and addiction plays in our society– and how we can take steps fix it.
- Alcohol Use Disorders Affect Nearly 20 Million Americans
2012 statistics from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) show that estimated 17 million adult Americans currently suffer from an alcohol use disorder (AUD). That’s more than 7% of the adult population of the U.S. Nearly twice as many men (11.2 million) suffer from AUDs than women (5.7 million.)
- More than 5% of Americans With an Alcohol Use Disorder Are Under The Age of 18
Adults aren’t the only ones who suffer from alcohol use disorders. Data from the NIAAA indicates that nearly 900,000 Americans between 12-17 also suffer from AUDs. For children and teens, alcohol use and abuse can harm their developing bodies and brains– damaging their ability to think clearly, learn and grow their intelligence, and develop coping skills that will allow them to live as healthy, responsible adults.
- Alcoholism Affects Senior Citizens Too
While it’s true that young people are at particular risk for developing an addiction to alcohol, older adults, especially retirees, are also at serious risk. An increase in free time due to retirement, as well as loneliness caused by the absence of children, friends, or spouses can often lead to newfound anxiety and depression in many recently retired seniors.
Because of their age, doctors, friends, and family members may be less likely to notice the signs of alcoholism in these individuals or simply confuse some of the disease’s side effects with age-related disorders, such as dementia, alzheimer’s, or other conditions. In addition, doctors may be more likely to liberally prescribe older people medications such as opiates or benzodiazepines, which can have extremely serious effects when combined with alcohol.
- More Than 20 Million Americans are Estimated to be in Recovery from Alcoholism
While recovering from alcohol abuse issues can be a serious challenge, millions of Americans have overcome alcohol and addiction and dependence to live healthy, satisfying, and fulfilling lives. Every large city has hundreds, if not thousands of support groups for alcoholism and alcohol addiction (and that’s not even considering online communities.) So, if you’re in recovery and need someone to talk to, wherever you go, there are sure to be many other individuals in recovery nearby.
- Less Than 9% of Americans with an AUD Seek Professional Treatment
Sadly, our society often stigmatizes those who need alcohol abuse treatment the most. Getting treatment for alcohol abuse can be scary– and if you have a problem and are thinking of getting help, you shouldn’t also be afraid of what others think. Even for those who genuinely want treatment, finding a high-quality, professionally-accredited program can be a serious challenge.
Alcoholism is a disease that does not discriminate by age, race, ethnicity, gender, income, or sexuality. Anyone, no matter how happy, healthy, wealthy, or powerful can become a victim if they are not careful.
If you’re suffering from an AUD, you shouldn’t be intimidated by the idea of getting treatment. A high-quality alcoholism treatment program won’t simply help you get sober, it will help improve your physical, mental, and emotional health in order to give you the best shot at sustainable, long-term sobriety.
At Get Treatment, we’ve committed ourselves to helping alcoholics across the United States get better access to caring, state-of-the-art alcohol abuse treatment centers. Each of our centers’ provide alcohol treatment plans that combine traditional, evidence-based treatments with holistic therapies to give patients a broad spectrum of effective therapeutic options. If you or someone you love is suffering from an alcoholism, now is the time to take action.