National Alcohol Awareness Month
The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has celebrated Alcohol Awareness Month every April since 1987. This month aims to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma, and encourage surrounding communities to focus on alcoholism and issues related to alcohol.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2006 to 2018, 25% of adults 18 and over have been reported to have at least one heavy drinking day.1 This equates to 5 or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women. Additionally, everyday 261 Americans die because of excessive alcohol use.2 Covid-19 has also had a significant impact on alcohol misuse. According to a study by Julian et al., 2021, they sought to project the effect of increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic on alcohol associated liver disease.3 It was concluded that a short-term increase in alcohol consumption during the pandemic could substantially increase alcohol-associated liver disease-related morbidity and mortality. 3 While these statistics are shocking, it is necessary for local communities to be aware of the numbers and work towards reducing the stigma so that those battling with alcohol misuses are not ashamed to get treatment. So what does it mean to reduce stigma? According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, stigma is a significant barrier to the willingness to seek help.4 Reducing stigma is an essential first step to addressing the problems related to the availability and quality of care. Some examples to alleviate stigma in alcohol-related conditions include using non-stigmatizing, person- first language to describe the condition and those affected by it. Words such as “alcoholic” and “alcohol abuse” may be considered stigmatizing and may continue to keep people from seeking care. Some recommended terms when discussing alcohol related issues may include but are not limited to:
- Alcohol use disorder instead of alcohol abuse;
- Alcohol misuse instead of alcohol abuse;
- Person-first language such as a person with alcohol use disorder instead of recovering alcohol⁴.
Prevention strategies are important as they address behavioral issues by helping people develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to make good choices or change harmful behaviors.5 Furthermore, it is essential for prevention professionals to understand that alcohol misuse does not just “happen.” Some risks factors may cause or increase the likelihood of alcohol consumption. While understanding protective factors may reduce an individual from moving use to misuse. To achieve population-level change, evidence-based strategies such as responsible beverage service training, increased taxes on alcohol, advanced law enforcement strategies such as sobriety checkpoints, and restrictions on the promotion of alcohol are some of the few strategies to improve widespread change within a community.6
For more information on how to observe alcohol awareness month, check out SAMHSA’s national substance use prevention campaign “Talk.They Hear You”, aimed at equipping parents and caregivers with the tools to start talking with their children early about the dangers of alcohol. Additionally, to continue to empower and inform prevention professionals on this topic, the Central East PTTC will hold an event on April 6th from 1:00 - 2:30 pm on Preventing Underage Alcohol Use: Identifying and Understanding the Data.
- Early release of selected estimates based on data from the 2018 National Health Interview Survey, data table for figure 9.2
- Alcohol abuse statistics : National + State Data. National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. https://drugabusestatistics.org/alcohol-abuse-statistics/. Published February 19, 2022. Accessed March 31, 2022.
- Julien J, Ayer T, Tapper EB, Barbosa C, Dowd WN, Chhatwal J. Effect of increased alcohol consumption during COVID-19 pandemic on alcohol-associated liver disease: A modeling study [published online ahead of print, 2021 Dec 8]. Hepatology. 2021;10.1002/hep.32272. doi:10.1002/hep.32272
- When It Comes to Reducing Alcohol-Related Stigma, Words Matter. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/reducing-alcohol-related-stigma. Accessed March 31, 2022.
- Prevention of Substance Use and Mental Disorders. SAMHSA. https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/prevention. Accessed March 31, 2022.
- Evidence-based adult binge drinking prevention strategies. North Dakota Prevention Resource & Media Center. https://prevention.nd.gov/initiatives/preventing-adult-binge-drinking/strategies. Accessed March 31, 2022.