The month of April is designated as National Alcohol Awareness Month. The focus of this month is to bring increased understanding of the prevalence of alcohol abuse and treatment and reduce the stigma surrounding addiction.
Alcohol is the most used substance in the United States. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that 139.7 million Americans age 12 or older were past month alcohol users, 65.8 million people were binge drinkers in the past month, and 16 million were heavy drinkers in the past month. The survey also estimates that approximately 14.5 million people age 12 or older had an alcohol use disorder. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic these numbers are expected to rise in the next survey.
The pandemic is causing many stressors like social isolation and future uncertainty that may cause people to turn to alcohol as ways to cope. Alcohol may seem like a temporary fix to those issues, but the misuse of alcohol can have major effects on health. Excessive alcohol use can increase a person's risk of stroke, liver cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, cancer, and other serious health conditions. The consequences of alcohol abuse can also be deadly. It is estimated that over 80,000 people die from alcohol related causes and According to Center for Disease Control (CDC) 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver daily.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol use disorder: SAMHSA's National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.