Alcohol misuse is a global problem that results in 2.5 million deaths each year and is a leading risk factor for premature mortality, disability, and poor health. Heavy alcohol use is also associated with social issues such as violence and crime, child neglect and abuse, and absenteeism in the workplace. At the same time, alcohol misuse carries its own set of negative consequences for women and babies, such as increased cancer risks and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
Underage drinking in colleges and binge drinking directly contribute to risky behaviors such as drunk driving and assault, which lead to serious consequences such as arrest, injury, and death. One in six adults binge drink a number of times per month, and this practice contributes to about 90% of the alcohol consumed by those under the age of 21.
In an effort to raise public mindfulness around the consequences of alcohol misuse, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) declares April to be Alcohol Awareness Month. The theme for 2014 is “Help for Today. Hope for Tomorrow.” Here are eight tips for bringing this theme to life in your community.
- Evaluate your drinking habits (and suggest that your loved ones do as well). Make small changes such as setting drink limits before starting, and not consuming when upset.
- If you think you may have a problem, try finding substance abuse support in your area, or join a local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
- If there is a history of alcoholism in your family, take preventative steps to protect yourself.
- Take some time to talk to the young people in your life about alcohol and the dangers of its misuse.
- Register to host a community screening for National Alcohol Screening Day on April 10.
- Use and share these materials from the NCADD to start a discussion in your community about alcohol misuse.
- Participate in NCADD’s Alcohol-Free Weekend, April 4-6, to raise awareness of the potential dangers of overconsumption with family, friends and coworkers. This national event is a great way to jumpstart the conversation around alcohol misuse, and can also serve as a gauge for alcohol dependency. Any individual who finds it difficult to complete the 72-hour experiment should consider getting help and call The Massachusetts Substance Abuse Information and Education Helpline: (800) 327-5050.
- Submit an Alcohol Awareness Month message to your local paper or newsletter.
How will you recognize Alcohol Awareness Month? Share your ideas in the comments below or by tweet us @MassGov!
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