Each April since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., or NCADD, sponsors Alcohol Awareness Month to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.
For the 28th Anniversary of NCADD Alcohol Awareness Month, NCADD has chosen the theme “Help for Today. Hope for Tomorrow.” This theme is designed to draw attention to the pervasive impact that alcohol, alcohol-related problems and alcoholism have on young people, their friends, on Families and in our communities.
More than 18 million individuals or 8.5 percent of Americans suffer from alcohol-use disorders. In addition, there are countless millions of individuals, Family members and children who experience the devastating effects of the alcohol problem of someone in their life. In fact, 25 percent of U.S. children have been exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their Family.
The economic cost of alcoholism and alcohol abuse has recently been estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be $223.5 billion. The costs largely resulted from losses in workplace productivity (72 percent), health care expenses for problems caused by excessive drinking (11 percent), law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses related to excessive alcohol consumption (9 percent) and motor vehicle crash costs from impaired driving (6 percent).
Alcoholism places an enormous emotional, physical and financial burden on Family members and children of the person who is addicted to alcohol; 75 percent of domestic abuse is committed while one or both members are intoxicated, and Family members use health care twice as much as Families without alcohol problems.
Emotional and physical abuse often occurs as a result of parents or spouses losing control with Family members because of alcohol. Drinking and driving causes 16,000 deaths per year, and thousands more injuries. Up to 75 percent of the crimes are committed by people under the influence of alcohol. In Arizona alone, in 2012, 825 people were killed in traffic collisions and 227 died as a result of alcohol involvement. During 2012, more than 29,310 DUI arrests were made. Forty percent of those arrested had a blood-alcohol content over 15 percent.
Teens who experiment with alcohol before age 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol dependent when they are older than those who wait until age 20. Each day, 7,000 youth in the United States under 16 take their first drink. Unfortunately, still too many children are drinking alcohol and at too early an age. Much of it goes unnoticed and unchecked by adults. Unconcerned or unaware of the health risks, lacking in other coping skills, and eager to find peer acceptance, many teens are involved in regular alcohol use, which puts them at greater risk for alcoholism, as well as related problems such as drunk driving, sexual assault and further drug use.
Alcohol abuse can lead to many recognized health problems which can include anxiety, depression, certain cancers, liver cirrhosis, high blood pressure and heart problems. The harmful use of alcohol is also associated with several infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections. This is because alcohol consumption weakens the immune system, reduces inhibitions and effects judgment.
During April, Alcohol Awareness Month, personnel from the Fort Huachuca Army Substance Abuse Program, or ASAP, encourage people to educate themselves and loved ones about the dangers of drinking too much. To spread the word and raise awareness about alcohol abuse and underage drinking in the community, ASAP personnel are joining other organizations to honor Alcohol Awareness Month, promoting the Alcohol-Free Weekend, April 4 – 6, which is designed to raise public awareness about the use of alcohol and how it may be affecting individuals, Families, and the community.
During this 72-hour period, ASAP extends an open invitation to all Soldiers, Civilians, contractors, Family members, and both young and old community members, to participate in the three alcohol-free days and to use this time to learn about the consequences of alcohol abuse, early symptoms, treatment options, and resources by contacting ASAP and other alcoholism agencies. ASAP will set up information booths and displays around the garrison to provide alcohol education resources. During this weekend the Fort Huachuca leadership will be present at the gates to greet people and remind them to be safe. FMWR facilities will offer alcohol-free drinks specials.
April 10 is National Alcohol Screening Day. The Fort Huachuca community is invited to complete the alcohol self-assessment test by logging into http://www.militarymentalhealth.org/screening/default.aspx.
Even though the screening will not provide a diagnosis — for that you need to see a professional — it will tell you whether or not you have symptoms that are consistent with a condition or concern that would benefit from further evaluation or treatment. It will also give you guidance as to where to seek assistance. ASAP will set up screening centers at the Main Exchange and Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center on April 10 from 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. to provide the community with the opportunity to learn about alcohol abuse signs and evaluate their drinking habits.
“Alcohol Awareness Month raises awareness while encouraging people to make healthy and safe choices when it comes to use of alcohol,” says Kevin Mills, ASAP director.
“If you or someone you know are concerned about your drinking habits, try to cut back or stop drinking by limiting your drinking to no more than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men.
“Keep track of how much you drink, don’t drink when you are upset, avoid places where people drink a lot, and make a list of reasons not to drink. You could improve your health, improve your relationships, save money, do better at work or school, avoid hangovers, and avoid other problems. It’s up to you as to whether and when to change your drinking. Other people may be able to help, but in the end, it’s your decision,” Mills says.
“The Army Substance Abuse Program is here to offer ‘Help for Today and Hope for Tomorrow.’ For more information, about alcohol awareness, visit www.rethinkingdrinking.com or call 533.2071,” Mills adds.