Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow
While the first of April is typically reserved for pranks and practical jokes, the rest of the month is also for some more serious observances. One of those being Alcohol Awareness Month. For the year 2019, the focus is underage drinking, and reports show the theme is “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.” The hope is that we can take this chance to spread education to young people about the dangers of alcohol abuse, and share ways to get help.
Despite the fact that most of the headlines these days focus on the opioid crisis, alcohol abuse and addiction continue to rise all over the country. While alcohol may not be as notorious today as fentanyl or heroin, death rates relating to alcohol are still staggering, and the health problems associated with excessive alcohol use are steadily growing.
Risks of Underage Drinking
Underage drinking is one of the most important issues we face when talking about alcohol abuse. Despite the fact the is it illegal for people under 21 years old to consume alcohol, people aged 12 to 20 years actually drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.
Not to mention, underage drinkers on average consume more drinks per occasion than adult drinkers. So it is no surprise that 90% of alcohol consumed by underage drinkers meets the criteria of binge-drinking.
According to a 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of high school students, during the past 30 days:
- 30% report drinking some amount of alcohol
- 14% binge drank
- 6% admit to driving after drinking alcohol
- 17% admit to riding with a driver who had been drinking
Every year, approximately 6,500 people age 21 and under die due to alcohol-related accidents. Many of these young people are not even drinking themselves. Another nationwide survey in 2017, the Monitoring the Future Survey, shows that:
- 8% of 8th graders admit to drinking in the past 30 days
- 2% of 8th graders admit to binge-drinking in the past 30 days
- 33% of 12th graders admit to drinking in the past 30 days
- 19% of 12th graders admit to binge-drinking in the past 30 days
For parents, these statistics can be unsettling, to say the least. While most parents want to believe that their kids are the exception to the rule, it is still vital that families talk about the risks of alcohol use, binge-drinking, and drunk driving.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a range of severe side-effects relating to underage drinking, including:
- Memory problems
- Changes in brain development
- Trouble at school, such as poor grades or increased absences
- Social problems, like fighting or lack of participation in youth activities
- Legal issues relating to drinking
- Hangovers and other physical illnesses
- Disruption of normal growth and sexual development
- Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity
- Physical and sexual assault
- Higher risk of depression and suicide
- Abusing other drugs
- Death due to alcohol poisoning
For underage drinkers, the risk of experiencing these issues is far greater for those who participate in binge-drinking. Additionally, those who engage in excessive drinking earlier in life are more likely to develop alcohol use disorder later on.
History of Alcohol Awareness Month
Firstly, we believe it is important to acknowledge the history of Alcohol Awareness Month. The annual observance was first established back in 1987, created to reduce the stigma of alcoholism and support local communities in their efforts to address alcohol-related issues.
The program began with the intention of targeting college-age students. Many young people at the point in life tend to drink too much as part of their independence. Meanwhile, many parents mistakenly shrug excessive alcohol use off as a ‘rite of passage’ for young people. However, the true nature of their drinking can be far more dangerous.
Over the last several decades, alcohol abuse among teens has not gone away. That is why Alcohol Awareness Month is just as important today as it was the day it began.
Defining Alcohol Use Disorder
Since the conversation around alcohol awareness will frequently reference alcohol use disorder, it is also important to establish a clear definition of AUD. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIDAA) defines alcohol use disorder as:
“A chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.”
Furthermore, the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published in May of 2013 made some updates to the diagnostic criteria. Some of the symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder listed in the DSM-5 include, but are not limited to:
- Periods of drinking more, or longer, than you intended
- More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t
- Spend a lot of time drinking, being sick, or getting over the aftereffects
- Wanting to drink so badly you could not think of anything else
- Drinking, or being sick from drinking, often interferes with taking care of responsibilities
- Continued drinking despite causing problems with family or friends
- Needing to drink more than usual for the same effects
- Giving up important or pleasurable activities in order to drink
It also categorizes AUD with different levels of severity, including:
- Mild– the presence of 2 to 3 symptoms
- Moderate– the presence of 4 to 5 symptoms
- Severe– the presence of 6 or more symptoms
Alcohol use disorder is incredibly dangerous, and the withdrawals can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening for those with severe physical dependence. That is why it is critical for those who struggle with alcohol use disorder to seek out a safe medical detox when trying to quit drinking.
It is true that one of the most devastating drug epidemics in America is the opioid crisis. However, one could argue that an alcohol epidemic just as pervasive and devastating has been happening in the background. While it may be different because it is legal and far more socially acceptable, alcohol is behind staggering numbers of deaths across the country. Likewise, alcohol use and abuse are far more prominent than most people realize.
Needless to say, one of those ever-important alcohol-related issues is the prevalence of underage drinking. Just a few years ago in 2015, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) conducted a number of studies. According to the data:
- 623,000 adolescents between 12 and 17 years old fit the criteria for alcohol use disorder (AUD)
- Over 15 million adults age 18 and older suffered from AUD
- 8 million of them were men
- 3 million were women
Overall, approximately 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes every single year. To put that in perspective, 70,200 people died due to drug overdose deaths in 2017.
The alcohol epidemic also contributes to other serious issues around the world, including:
- Domestic abuse
- Sexual assault
- Violent crimes
- Driving fatalities
Needless to say, if we look at alcohol the way we look at most drugs, we’d probably see these statistics a lot differently. The alcohol epidemic is all around us. Every year tens of thousands of people are losing their lives, but because we see beer commercials on television and drive past liquor stores every day we don’t realize how serious it is.
Alcohol Awareness Month is also about shedding some light on this tragic reality in hopes that we can turn it around.
Increases in Alcohol Illness and Death
In addition to alcohol abuse and AUD, there are a number of health concerns that arise from excessive and prolonged alcohol use. In fact, some researchers have noticed an influx of alcohol-related health programs, including:
- A 40% spike in alcohol-related liver disease
- 60% spike in drinking-related emergency room visits
Some have even attributed these new rates to an increase in the potency of some alcoholic beverages. During Alcohol Awareness Month, we should also bring attention to the multitude of serious health risks associated with the substance. Some of the most common health problems associated with alcohol use include:
Excessive drinking can cause lower numbers of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. This condition, commonly known as anemia, can create a variety of symptoms, including:
- Shortness of breath
Heavy drinking, especially binge-drinking, can cause blood pressure to surge. Over time, this effect can become chronic and lead to other serious health issues, such as:
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
According to the American Heart Association, 1 in every 3 deaths is related to cardiovascular disease. The AHA states that on average, 1 American dies every 40 seconds from cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, excessive alcohol use is one common factor that leads to an elevated risk of heart disease.
Physicians and scientists agree that habitual drinking increases the risk of cancer. Most believe this risk comes from the body converting alcohol into acetaldehyde. Cancer sites frequently attributed to alcohol use include:
Cancer risk is only further exacerbated by tobacco use.
Alcohol is toxic to liver cells. As a result, heavy drinkers often develop cirrhosis. With this condition, the liver is so heavily scarred that it is unable to function, which can be lethal.
On one hand, heavy alcohol consumption can actually cause epilepsy. Conversely, it can also trigger seizures in people who don’t have epilepsy or interfere with medications used to treat convulsions.
Addressing Underage Drinking
In order to address underage drinking, families, and communities have to work together to spread education and prevention. Alcohol Awareness Month helps highlight these efforts and bring the conversation to the forefront. Not only does this mean promoting prevention for young people, but also offering treatment opportunities for those in need.
Reducing underage drinking means community-based efforts to monitor the activities of youth and decrease youth access to alcohol. Alcohol Awareness Month also promotes additional prevention strategies, such as:
- Enforcement of minimum legal drinking age laws
- National media campaigns targeting youth and adults
- Increasing alcohol excise taxes
- Reducing youth exposure to alcohol advertising
- Development of comprehensive community-based programs
With alcohol use disorder being such a significant aspect of this issue, it is crucial that young adults and their families understand the importance of comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment. Not only is it the safest and most effective way to safely discontinue alcohol use, but a personalized treatment program can help an individual establish a strong foundation for continued recovery. Long-term sobriety is about more than just surviving the physical withdrawals and health problems. Recovery is also about developing the life skills and coping mechanisms that support a healthy lifestyle beyond addiction.
For over 20 years, Palm Healthcare Company facilities have provided the best in comprehensive treatment opportunities for those struggling with alcohol use disorder. If you or someone you love is struggling, do not wait. Please call toll-free now. We want to help.
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Two non-profit organizations recently analyzed updated data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and found that deaths caused by suicide, drug overdose and alcohol rose by 6% in the year 2017, leading to an all-time high in the United States.
Altogether, drugs, alcohol, and suicide killed more than 150,000 people.
Ever since federal data collection started in 1999, the non-profit’s report claims there has never been a death rate this high attributed to these causes. A spike was observed in the national rate for deaths from alcohol, drugs, and suicide:
- Start of 2017- 9 deaths per 100,000 people
- End of 2017- 6 deaths per 100,000 people
On one hand, this is actually a slower increase than the previous two years. However, the difference was a lot over the average annual increase of 4% since 1999.
Opioid Death Rates
Probably the most obvious reasoning behind this increase would be the ongoing opioid crisis. One of the major contributing factors to the rising rates of overdose death in America is dangerous synthetic drugs making their way to the illicit market.
For one thing, deaths due to synthetic opioids like fentanyl, rose 45 % in that time. In the past five years, these deaths have actually increased tenfold. Needless to say, lawmakers and public health officials have been scrambling for years to try and solve the overdose issue in the United States.
Suicide Death Rates
Since 1999, deaths from suicide have increased by 33%. The data for 2017 indicates a significant rise in death rates:
- Start of 2017- 9 deaths per 100,000
- End of 2017- 5 deaths per 100,000
This is an increase of 4%, which is double the average annual pace over the previous decade. More specifically, from 2008 to 2017:
- Suicide by suffocation increased by 42%
- Suicide by firearm increased by 22%
The highest suicide rates are typically in rural areas, including:
- West Virginia
- New Mexico
- New Hampshire
One thing to point out is that some researchers believe that suicides are actually under-reported. This may be in part due to the stigma surrounding mental disorders, but also largely due to mislabeling the cause of death. For instance, some cases may be recorded as overdoses or accidents that are actually intentional.
Alcohol Death Rates
As far as alcohol-related death rates are concerned, some suspect that higher proof alcohols becoming increasingly popular in the last decade has also contributed to health issues and deaths. In fact, between 2002 and 2013:
- The amount of how much alcohol Americans consumed only increased by 6%.
- Estimates to determine how much alcohol is typically drunk have remained the same.
- Health problems as a result of drinking spiked in the same time frame.
Meanwhile, some drinks have a dramatically higher alcohol-by-volume (ABV) percentage. Between 2002 and 2016, the average alcohol by volume grew across the board:
- Beer ABV increased an average of 2%
- Wine ABV increased an average of 6%
- Liquor ABV increased an average of 4%
According to another analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, from 2007 to 2017:
- The number of deaths attributable to alcohol increased by 35%
- Deaths among women rose 85%
- Deaths among men rose 29%
One positive piece of data is that the study suggests teen drinking deaths actually decreased by 16%. Still, alcohol has contributed plenty to the rising death rates.
Addressing Underlying Issues
With the highest death rates due to drugs, alcohol, and suicide in recorded history, it goes without saying that a lot more needs to be done to promote treatment resources and prevention. With the failed War on Drugs has taught us what is not working, many have turned to strategies that focus on the preservation of life more than punishing those struggling with addiction. Harm reduction efforts like naloxone expansion and needle exchange programs have made some real progress. Some have even begun exploring the possibility of establishing safe injection sites.
Additionally, there needs to be more put into comprehensive treatment. Most experts agree there is a need for broader efforts to address the underlying causes of alcohol and drug use, and suicide. Having access to effective mental health care and addiction treatment resources can significantly impact the well-being of those most at risk. Long-term recovery offers those most likely to die as a result of drug use or suicide a way out.
This would also include more funding and support for programs that reduce risk factors. A major aspect of prevention when it comes to substance abuse and mental health has to do with trauma and adverse childhood experiences. Research has suggested there is a notable connection between the risk of drug and alcohol abuse and suicide and childhood trauma.
There were five states where death rates due to drugs, alcohol, and suicide decreased:
- Rhode Island
Hopefully, as new initiatives push forward to save lives and offer prevention, we will see more states with decreasing death rates. Overall, we can hope that better opportunities for treatment and support will lead to an improvement in public health. Meanwhile, raising awareness and education are crucial to turning this trend around.
With their highest death rates in history, substance abuse and suicide are some of the most important public health issues facing Americans today. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
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(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
“Alcoholic” is the kind of term that a lot of people jokily use to describe their friend who has a few too many drinks one night, or something they say dismissively to make light of their own drinking binges. But does the average person truly understand what it means to be an alcoholic? Alcohol addiction might not seem as serious to some people, but alcoholism is truly devastating and far more complicated than you may think. Partly because people often assume that all alcoholics are the same.
So first, let us look at how alcoholism is commonly defined. Then, let us look at 4 different problem drinkers to see how alcoholics can be quite different.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) has been more commonly known for decades as alcoholism. Alcoholism is frequently used as a more broad term for any drinking of alcohol that results in physical and/or mental health problems. At one point, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) divided alcoholism into two types of disorders:
- Alcohol abuse
- Alcohol dependence
The most recent version is DMS-5, which integrates these two disorders into one definition of alcohol use disorder. That DSM-5 also identifies levels of mild, moderate and severe sub-classifications. According to the DSM-5, anyone meeting two of the 11 criteria for AUD in the same 12-month period would receive a diagnosis of AUD.
These 11 criteria include:
- Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended
- More than once unable to stop drinking when you wanted to or tried to stop
- Spent a lot of time drinking, being sick from drinking, or recovering from the aftereffects of drinking
- Wanting a drink so badly you cannot think of anything else
- Drinking or being sick from drinking often interferes with taking care of your home, family, job, school responsibilities
- Continuing to drink even though it causes trouble with family and friends
- Giving up or cutting back on interests and activities in order to drink
- Getting into situations that increase your chances of getting hurt while or after drinking
- Continuing to drink despite feeling depressed or anxious, adding to another health problem, or having memory blackouts
- Needing to drink much more for the same effect
- Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms when the effects of alcohol wear off
Then the severity of the AUD is defined as:
Mild alcoholism is the presence of 2 to 3 of these symptoms.
Presence of 4 to 5 of these symptoms suggests moderate alcoholism.
The presence of 6 or more of these symptoms is an indication of severe alcohol use disorder.
5 Subtypes of Alcoholism
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This organization has actually identified what it believes are 5 subtypes of alcoholism to help expand on our understanding of this complex disease. By looking at how alcoholism can manifest in different forms, a person can learn how to identify warning signs, and how to look for a personalized treatment program that fits their needs.
According to the NIAAA, the largest percentage of alcoholics actually falls into this category, with 31.5% of alcoholics in America. Nearly 1/3 of all alcoholics fit into this subtype.
This group is typically late teens and early 20s. Often these young adults are likely college students. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports:
- Underage drinkers between the ages of 12 and 20 regularly consume more alcohol at a time than older drinkers
- 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by this group is through binge drinking
Binge drinking is often perpetuated by underage and young adult drinkers. People who fall into the young adult alcoholic subtype rarely have alcoholism in their family history, and they may also be less likely to seek help for their excessive drinking as it is often considered “normal” as a “phase of life” that family members and adults may not take seriously.
This type of alcoholic is typically someone in their mid-20s who started drinking alcohol at an early age. With anyone, alcohol impacts brain chemistry, and regular exposure can actually change the way the brain’s circuitry works.
Young brains do not have a fully developed prefrontal cortex, meaning young people can have more difficulties controlling emotions and impulses. They are also more likely to take bigger risks. So excessive drinking may interfere with normal brain development, and increase the odds of substance abuse and addiction.
Unlike the young adult subtype, more than half of the young antisocial alcoholics have a family history of alcoholism.
Many people in this category suffer from a mental health disorder. Around half of the young antisocial subtype also struggle with an antisocial personality disorder. If someone is struggling with a co-occurring mental health disorder, the risk of developing alcoholism or a substance use disorder (SUD) is elevated. Other co-occurring disorders frequently found in this category include:
Around 3/4 of this subtype will also use tobacco and/or marijuana. They may also struggle with opioids or cocaine addictions.
Around 19.5% of the alcoholic population in the country will fall into the category of the functional alcoholic. These are typically middle-aged, well-educated, and seemingly well put together individuals. They may have a seemingly stable home life with a loving family. Functional alcoholics probably have a steady job and appear to have their lives together. They do not fit into the common stereotype of alcoholism.
Around 1/4 of this subtype of alcoholics have at least one major depressive episode in their lives. However, functional alcoholics are also often good at hiding emotional distress and issues with drinking.
Usually, a functional alcoholic will consistently fulfill most of their regular obligations. In fact, their family may even enable their drinking by making excuses for them when issues related to alcohol abuse do come up. The fact that they are able to appear successful will make it much harder to convince them that they have a drinking problem. Thus, many functional alcoholics will not seek help.
This subtype is also typically made up of middle-aged alcoholics. Around half of these individuals come from families with multigenerational alcoholism. Close to 1 out of every 5 intermediate familial alcoholics also struggles with marijuana and cocaine abuse. Many of these individuals also have co-occurring mental health disorders.
- Nearly half of all intermediate familial alcoholics have struggled with clinical depression
- 20% have battled bipolar disorder
- Many others struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder
A lot of intermediate familial alcoholics may use alcohol as a way to self-medicate the difficult emotional symptoms of their mental health disorders.
When people use the term alcoholic, this is the subtype they most commonly associate with it. Surprisingly though, chronic severe alcoholics only make up 9% of the entire alcoholic population of America.
So really, that stereotype of alcoholism actually represents the minority of alcoholic drinkers.
Chronic severe alcoholics are comprised mostly of middle-aged individuals who had early onset of problem drinking. This subtype experiences high rates of Antisocial Personality Disorder and criminality. Furthermore, nearly 80% of the chronic severe alcoholics come from families with multigenerational alcoholism. This group has the highest rates of other psychiatric disorders, including:
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety disorders
Chronic severe types also experience high rates of dependence with:
This is alcoholism to an extreme. Thankfully, this is the subtype with the highest rates of admission to alcohol addiction treatment.
Why Alcohol Addiction Treatment Matters
According to the NIAAA, in 2015 over 6% of American Adults met the criteria for AUD. Sadly, less than 10% of those people struggling with alcoholism received professional treatment. Those numbers alone show how much having alcohol addiction treatment matters. Each subtype will have unique experiences, which means they can greatly benefit from a recovery plan that is custom made for their unique needs. A functional alcoholic may want a treatment plan that incorporates their family. A chronic severe alcoholic may be suffering from a serious health condition that requires more of a focus on medical care.
The truth is, for how devastating alcoholism can be, it is troubling that so few people actually get the help they desperately need. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are not just uncomfortable, but they can be dangerous and even life-threatening depending on the severity. That is why safe medical detox for alcohol is such a key component of a treatment program.
With all of those subtypes who experience co-occurring mental health disorders, it is critical that they have access to dual diagnosis treatment opportunities. For these individuals, it is important that treatment is not exclusively focused on alcoholism, but also addresses their mental health. Dual diagnosis treatment is designed to simultaneously treat co-occurring conditions while also providing comprehensive care and support for recovering from alcohol addiction. For those with co-occurring disorders, only treating one while ignoring the other can be counterproductive. An untreated mental health disorder can ultimately lead an individual to self-medicate. Dual diagnosis treatment isn’t just a better level of care- it is a crucial aspect of relapse prevention.
Regardless of what subtype someone may fit into, it is important that anyone who fits the criteria for alcohol use disorder seek professional addiction treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
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Did you know that April is Alcohol Awareness Month?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths each year between 2006 and 2010. Among working-age adults between 20 and 64 years old, excessive drinking was responsible for 1 in every 10 deaths. Alcohol abuse is a greater risk than many people realize. Sadly, underage drinking in America has also become a very serious problem.
Back in April of 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) began sponsoring the national observance of Alcohol Awareness Month in order to increase public awareness and understanding of the risks associated with alcoholism. America’s relationship with heavy drinking is already pretty intense, so taking the time for this month to reflect is probably a good idea.
A big goal of this observance is to reduce the stigma attached to alcohol abuse and addiction. Advocates are also encouraging local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues. Alcohol Awareness Month isn’t just for looking at the impacts on society, but also at the risks to the individual, and promoting education.
NCADD states that the theme for Alcohol Awareness Month is- “Changing Attitudes: It is not a rite of passage.”
The risk alcohol poses to young people is not something to take lightly, but sadly many people do. Too many parents are willing to overlook their children drinking underage because they have adopted the idea that drinking in your teens and early twenties is a ‘rite of passage’. This mindset actually minimizes the reality, which is that alcohol use is especially harmful to young people. But many parents just assume their kids will “get through it”. Parents frequently chalk the whole thing up to a “phase” that all young people experience. But is it safe to take it so lightly?
However, drinking is directly associated with many severe problems for young people. This shows that parents face some unique challenges when talking to children and young people about drinking and drug use. However, according to the NCADD, research has shown that kids who have conversations with their parents and learn about the hazards of alcohol and drug use are 50% less likely to use these substances than those who don’t. Parents have a critical position in alcohol abuse prevention. They have the power to help change the attitudes that lead to minimizing destructive behaviors like underage drinking.
Addressing the role parents can play in teaching their kids about the risks of alcohol is what this year’s Alcohol Awareness Month is all about.
Believe it or not, parents can help kids understand that using alcohol isn’t a healthy or effective way to feel or be independent. It might seem “cool” but it isn’t a safe or sustainable strategy for fitting in socially. People may think of drinking like a minor rebellion that provides a short-term solution, but that kind of logic can easily lead to a more serious long-term problem.
To put into perspective just how serious underage drinking is, we can take a look at more statistics from the CDC.
- Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year.
- 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States is by people between 12 and 20 years old, even though it is illegal.
- More than 90% of the alcohol consumed by people between 12-20 years old is done by binge-drinking.
There are a lot of terrible consequences that result from underage drinking, including:
- Memory problems
- Abuse of other drugs
- Changing in brain development (which could have a long-term impact)
- Traffic fatalities
- Higher risk of homicide
- Educational failure
- Alcohol overdose
- Unwanted, unplanned and unprotected sex
- Physical or sexual assault
- Legal problems
- Hangovers or Illnesses
- Death from alcohol poisoning
According to the CDC, young people who start drinking before age 15 are actually six times more likely to develop alcohol dependence and abuse later in life than people who begin drinking at or after age 21. So how can you get involved in making a difference? There are a lot of ways to acknowledge Alcohol Awareness Month.
Acknowledging Alcohol Awareness Month
April has a lot of local, state, and national events. These are opportunities to help educate people about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism, particularly among our youth. They are also meant to highlight the important role parents can play in helping kids better understand the impacts of alcohol.
Local NCADD Affiliates, as well as schools, colleges, churches, and countless other community organizations, will sponsor and host a number of activities, and you can even find a way to organize your own Alcohol Awareness Month events via the NCADD website. The NCADD even encourages everyone to participate in alcohol-free days.
An easy way to join the conversation is to follow #AlcoholAwarenessMonth
These events are also meant to encourage individuals and families to find help concerning alcohol-related issues. Sometimes this kind of awareness comes down to acknowledging the problem in your own life. Whether it is your own drinking, or that of a loved one, seeking help and support can change everything. Alcohol Awareness Month provides opportunities for prevention and promotes treatment for those who need it.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism should not be taken lightly. In fact, alcohol withdrawal can be extremely dangerous. For those addicted to alcohol, it is not recommended to try and get off of alcohol without medical supervision. Safe medical detox is the most effective and supportive environment for those with an alcohol dependence. There are a lot of resources available to those who need the help. Alcohol Awareness Month is the perfect time to have that conversation with someone you care about.
Alcohol Awareness Month not only helps us understand the dangers of alcohol, but it reminds us that we are not alone. It helps us to see not only is alcohol dangerous but also that there is hope for those who have already suffered because of alcohol. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
Even though the country is very aware of the opioid crisis that continues to claim lives every day, one of the most dangerous drugs in America is still alcohol. Heavy drinking in the US is also a deadly epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an estimated 90,000 people die from excessive drinking every year.
Another new report also indicated that those who do die from alcohol abuse actually die an average of 30 years prematurely.
With more deaths related to heavy drinking than any other drug, which states have the highest rates? A new piece released on 24/7 Wall St. from last week went to work ranking all 50 states.
Defining Different Drinking
In order to better understand how troubling the data truly is, we first have to understand what qualifies as “excessive drinking”.
The CDC categorizes an alcoholic drink as something containing 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol. Therefore, the CDC considers excessive drinking to include terms like:
For women, excessive drinking is four or more drinks on a single occasion. For men, it requires five or more drinks in one sitting.
When it comes to “heavy drinking”, by CDC standards:
- Women consume at least eight alcoholic drinks per week
- Men consume at least 15 alcoholic drinks per week
24/7 Wall St. analyzed CDC data on heavy drinking, along with census bureaus and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to create their report. What it shows is that 18% of Americans drink excessively, but that the difference between states it dramatic.
America’s Heavy Drinking States
- Adults drinking excessively: 11.2%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 28.0% (11th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 11.4%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.0% (25th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 12.4%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 19.7% (the lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 13.0%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 29.4% (17th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 13.3%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 23.3% (3rd lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 13.8%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.1% (25th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 13.9%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 29.9% (19th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 14.9%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.3% (24th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 15.3%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 28.4% (13th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 15.4%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 28.4% (23rd highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 15.5%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.8% (20th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 15.8%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.8% (21st highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 16.0%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 27.6% (9th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 16.3%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 28.5% (14th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 16.4%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 37.8% (7th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 16.6%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 37.9% (6th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 16.8%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 23.6% (5th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 16.8%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 23.4% (4th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 16.9%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 27.3% (8th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 17.3%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 29.9% (8th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 17.4%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 30.5% (20th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 17.4%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 28.2% (12th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 15.5%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 35.3% (10th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 17.6%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 24.3% (20th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 17.7%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 31.7% (23rd lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 17.7%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 35.2% (11th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 17.8%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 35.0% (12th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 17.9%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 40.4% (3rd highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 18.0%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 29.0% (15th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 18.1%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.0% (24th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 18.2%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 23.0% (2nd lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 18.4%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 31.2% (22nd lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 18.6%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 33.4% (18th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 18.8%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.6% (22th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 18.8%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.8% (19th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 19.1%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 34.7% (13th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 19.2%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 34.3% (14th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 19.5%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 27.8% (10th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 19.6%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 33.4% (17th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 19.6%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 39.8% (4th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 20.0%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 29.4% (16th lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 20.4%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 35.6% (9th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 20.5%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 38.0% (5th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 21.0%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 25.4% (7th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 21.1%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 30.9% (21st lowest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 21.2%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 34.2% (15th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 21.8%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 46.3% (2nd highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 22.1%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 33.8% (16th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 24.5%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 36.9% (8th highest)
- Adults drinking excessively: 24.7%
- Alcohol-related driving deaths: 46.7% (the highest)
What State Stats Tell Us
Looking at some of the data, you might be surprised at where some of these states ended up in the rankings. One thing that comes to no surprise is that the state with the highest rate of excessive drinking- North Dakota- also has the highest rates of alcohol-related driving deaths.
But there are things that you might not be able to tell from these numbers at face value. For one, the director of the NIAAA George Koob claims,
“There is a clear correlation between a state’s excessive drinking rate and income.”
For example, the top 25 states with higher drinking rates also have similarly high median household income. Out of those 25, 14 of them have incomes that exceed the national average of $57,617. Compare that to the 10 states with the lowest drinking rates, with 9 of them having household incomes well below that same average.
However, Koob cautions us not to see this correlation too cut and dry, stating:
“If you look at individuals, the [drinking-to-household income] pattern is somewhat different.”
Someone may look at the report and suggest that affluent individuals frequently drink to excess, however, they don’t appear to drink as heavily. In fact, it seems low-income individuals drink to excess less frequently, but when they drink, they drink heavily more consistently.
Overall, we should take notice of just how prevalent excessive drinking is in different areas all over the country. In 2016 the population of North Dakota (#1 on the list) was around 757,952. Based on this number, 24.7% excessive drinking comes out to around 187,214 adults. Even with Tennessee, the state with the lowest rate, the numbers are pretty serious. With a 2016 population of 6.651 million, 11.2% comes out to 744,912 adults drinking excessively. So almost the entire population of North Dakota.
We have to be able to acknowledge risk behavior like excessive and heavy drinking in order to help those who may be struggling with alcohol use disorder. With alcohol doing real damage to so many lives in every corner of America, providing treatment programs for those struggling with alcohol use disorder is incredibly important. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
Most people who own a television have probably seen Gabriel Byrne at work, but just in case you haven’t, go watch The Usual Suspects. In fact, if you haven’t seen that movie in a few months, go watch it again. Totally worth it. Or you may recognize him from one of many other roles, including:
- Stigmata (movie)
- End of Days (movie)
- Vikings (series)
- Marco Polo (series)
Gabriel Byrne is Irish born actor who has also a grown into a successful film director, film producer, writer, cultural ambassador and audiobook narrator. Since the beginning of his acting career in 1979, he has struck the silver screen and small screen a multitude of times with powerful and intense performances.
He won a Golden Globe Award back in the HBO drama In Treatment, which aired from 2008 to 2011. That role also earned him nominations for various other awards.
But just last week the 67-year-old actor accepted another awesome honor- a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA). The following night, he took the time to reflect on what he considers one of his biggest victories– his 21 years of recovery from alcohol.
Gabriel Byrne on Drinking and Recovery
During an interview on Ireland’s The Late Late Show,
“I think like a lot of people, I drank to escape from myself and to escape from the pressure that I felt around me. But I knew that I could never handle it, I was absolutely allergic to it. It was not a good thing for me to do.”
“With this lifetime achievement thing, it’s not about the work, it’s of a life and one of the biggest victories to me in my life was that personal one of stopping that and saying I’m not going to be that person anymore.”
But Gabriel Byrne didn’t stop with discussing his own issues with alcohol. He also spoke about his feeling toward the culture in Ireland which endorses drinking.
“That kind of thing became to me kind of frightening because my drinking was spiraling into a place where I couldn’t remember what I did.”
“One day I woke up and said, ‘If I don’t stop this, I am going to die.’”
Byrne admits that it took him a long time to be brave enough to admit he had a problem and needed help. His agent of 30 years, Teri Hayden, was instrumental in getting him the help he needed. She was the first person he went to for help. Describing walking into a room full of strangers looking for help with his drinking Gabriel Byrne says,
“It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.”
After over two decades in sobriety, it seems Gabriel Byrne seems committed to his work as both an actor, an activist and an advocate for recovery. He also acknowledges that a lot has changed since he left Ireland for the United States, adding that he is actually encouraged by how the culture is shifting. He is happy to see now that it is no longer strange in Ireland for people to recognize their drinking problems and ask for help.
We love sharing celebrity recovery stories because they remind us that anyone can be impacted by addiction. Actors, artists and musicians often experience the same devastation that can be caused when drugs take hold of their lives, and their stories of overcoming fear and stigma to get help can be inspiring. Everyone might not have access to the same resources as celebrities, but there are still effective treatment options. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398