Alcohol Awareness Month: Changing Attitudes in April 2018

Alcohol Awareness Month: Changing Attitudes in April 2018

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.”

Changing Attitudes

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.

Underage Drinking

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
  • Violence
  • Suicide
  • 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.

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The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 12

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 12

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Ladies and gentlemen, we have made it to the 12th Step of Christmas!

Those total lords have been jumping all around, the maids have stopped milking and are dancing with the other ladies. All the beautiful birds are flying around like crazy… but we have been waiting for the bass drop… BOOM! In comes the 12 drummers, and I mean they come in like the Ohio State Marching Band, just killin it!

Still don’t know why your true love brought so many birds, but hey it’s a party.

So to follow the classice sense of the song, we are going to rehash the other 12 Steps of Christmas for our final thought.

1. Admitting that I am powerless over the Holidays and they can make my life unmanageable.

2. Came to believe a Power Greater than myself could restore my holiday cheer

3. Made a decision to turn your Holiday over to the care of your Higher Power.

4. Made a Searching and Fearless Christmas List.

5. Admit to ourselves and another human when we are being a Grinch.

6. Become entirely ready to let go of the Ba Humbug.

7. Humbly asked our Higher Power to remove our shortcomings of holiday spirit.

8. Made a naughty list and checked myself twice; became willing to make amends and be nice.

9. Made amends when it wouldn’t ruin someone else’s Christmas.

10. Continued trying to stay off the naughty list, and when we are naughty we promptly get jolly.

11. Seek more of the Christmas spirit with through prayer or meditation.

And finally….

Step 12: Carry the Christmas Spirit to others in all our affairs

This is what it is all about, really. This is why Christmas is such a beloved and cherished holiday for so many around the world. Without trying to take anything away from the vital role that religious faith plays in it for many, the spirit of Christmas is about sharing peace and love, goodwill toward others, compassion and connection.

We have talked about all of this through every step of the 12 Steps of Christmas. That is because love, peace, compassion, connection are all in the spirit of Christmas AND in the spirit of the 12 Steps of recovery. It isn’t hard to draw this relationship because at the core they give us inspiration and hope to build a better life, with fulfilled relationships and meaningful purpose.

In the 12th Step of most recovery fellowships they put a lot of emphasis on carrying the message of recovery. In Step 12 of Christmas let us say we can use the same idea; spread that love and connection to everyone. Of course there is the literal giving of gifts during Christmas when we try to bring joy to others with materials, but in the end these are just an offering or a gesture by which we communicate that love and connection to them.

It is just one way we give of ourselves to spread the love.

Practice the Christmas spirit in all things…

The truth is too often we forget that these attitudes and practices are not just meant to be done on the holidays. Too many people forget about acceptance, willingness and openness when the sleigh bells have come and gone. Many will make strong resolutions for the New Year, but few will remember to carry these principles on with them. Those who work the 12 Steps in recovery are actually very fortunate to have a program that provides a consistent practice of compassion and growth.

The 12 Steps remind us of the importance of self-awareness, reflection, humility and selfless action. They give us an outline for personal development while helping us try to mend damage done in active addiction.

So even if you are not in recovery from drugs or alcohol, you can learn a lot about yourself and about your impact on the people who matter most to you. Doing things like taking inventory, addressing your character defects and helping others is really just a path toward spreading the cheer, joy, love and connection that Christmas gives us.

This year, try to carry the spirit of Christmas in all things. Try to remind yourself to make every day count; to move away from the attitudes that hold you back and toward the wish list of a sober and fulfilled life.

Keep the Christmas party alive every day. Hey, you can even keep partrige. He’s not such a bad bird anyway.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.

Remember, this time of year the best gift you can ever give is yourself. For those who suffering from addiction, that means the opportunity for a life of recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 11

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 11

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The lords leaping and the ladies dancing have got the party going. The farm animals are all running a muck and suddenly this super-band of 11 dudes with pipe-instruments come in and break out in a jam session.

I take back what I said earlier about your true love… this is getting turnt.

With one more day to go in the 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery, we are grateful for Step 11 giving us a chance to get grounded again. Ask the band to play some mellow jazz for a minute.

Step 11: Seek more of the Christmas spirit with through prayer or meditation

In earlier steps we talked about the importance of self-awareness and honest reflection, so with the prayer and meditation of Step 11 we seek to further connect with our Higher Power, whatever that means to you, in order to align with the spirit of Christmas.

For some of those who are still not so sold on the whole idea of spirituality, prayer might still be a little outside of your comfort zone. Remember, that is fine. For those who embrace the practice of prayer, you can take some time out for yourself on Christmas to seek a deeper spiritual connection to the experience.

For those who would prefer to meditate, take time for yourself to reflect quietly on what Christmas means to you. You don’t have to go sit cross-legged in a room with candles to do this. See if you can manage a few moments here or there to truly take a step back and witness all that you have received this Christmas.

I don’t mean just stare at your presents. Actually think on the impact your sobriety has had on the holiday. Look back at every step you have taken up to this point and seek to understand with how it has made a difference to you and the people who love you. Seek a stronger connection to this moment and this holiday through a deeper understanding of it.

The meaning behind being merry…

Meditation and prayer can show us even more of what the true meaning of being merry is. When we pray or meditate honestly and openly, we make room for more of that meaning to be revealed. The truth behind our joy and our merriment is so much more than you can put under the tree. A wise person once said that nothing has any meaning except the meaning we give it. If that is true, what meaning are you giving to Christmas? How are you aligning with the spirit of the celebration?

Ask how far you have come by doing the work on yourself to be more close with others. Ask yourself what is possible if you continue to be the person you set out to be when you got clean and sober, and how it makes these memories so much more. Somewhere in there, we can seek gratitude for what gifts we’ve been given. Not just the toys and gadgets, or the clothes and cards, but the gift of being alive and sober and with people who you care about. To have people who care about you to spend the holiday with.

Christmas in recovery is an amazing thing, and for some of us the meaning behind being merry is true fulfillment through tremendous gratitude. For our lives, for our hopes, and for each other.

Prayer and meditation are just some of the ways we can work on appreciating Christmas. Sometimes, we have to keep praying for those who are still struggling this holiday season. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. The greatest gift you can give is letting someone know you care, and want to help.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 10

12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 10

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So, the party your true love got together is kind of intense. Suddenly there are 10 dudes who claim to be lords are jumping around, and it looks like they might start a mosh pit with the 9 ladies dancing.

Needless to say, Christmas in recovery never sounded so wild.

Anyway, welcome back to the 12 Steps of Christmas in recovery, where we are putting a holiday twist on each of the 12 Steps of recovery used all over the globe.

Are you ready to talk about the next step?

Step 10: Continued checking myself to stay off the naughty list, and when we are naughty we promptly get jolly

After making our naughty list in Step 8 we have a pretty good idea what mischief we made to get on that list. We took a look at how we had wronged people over the year and how it has effected our holiday so far, and in Step 9 we began looking for ways to make this Christmas better by doing more for those we have harmed.

But we still have to make sure we don’t stay in our naughty ways. Step 6 and Step 7 we looked at how our moments of Grinch-ness and Ba Humbug have to be recognized. Now we continue to keep tabs on that naughty list. If you are anything like me, checking it twice and calling it a day just won’t cut it.

So throughout the holiday we need to watch out for those moments when the Grinch in us gets through. It just happens. Nobody is perfect.

What is important is that when we are enjoying the season that we are willing to accept our mistakes and make a conscious effort to interrupt that pattern with a healthy helping of jolly.

Being jolly ain’t always easy…

Of course it isn’t always easy to be jolly. Christmas is full of frustrating moments, even with the people we love. In fact, in some moments it is much easier to revert back to our old ways. Getting overwhelmed or feeling like you aren’t meeting your own expectations is not a sign that you are failing. It just means you have to keep at it.

Even Santa isn’t jolly all the time. Come on, the guy takes most of the year off after one of the most stressful night-shifts imaginable. But those toys don’t all get made in a day.

Christmas can take work, just like recovery. Being happy isn’t just something that happens to you by accident whenever its convenient. Being jolly during the holidays can be like that. So when you slip up and get a little Grinch thing going on, check yourself and promptly turn your attitude toward that which you have already received; a new chance at a better year with your family and friends.

Don’t let yourself stay Scroogey. Check it and get back in the spirit.

Spending Christmas facing the impacts of addiction on others can be extremely difficult, but take this opportunity to be more aware of what truly matters and what that means for your recovery. For those struggling this holiday season, ask for help; not just for your family but, for yourself. Give yourself and those who love you the most the best gift you can. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 9

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 9

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With only a few days let, we finally touch on Step 9 of the 12 Steps of Christmas series! This step takes more action, but for such an important time of year it helps us re-establish some very important connections.

By the way, tell your true love they are getting the hang of the gift giving thing. They threw a party and there are at least 9 ladies on the dance floor! Throw on jingle bell rock and get your collective grooves on.

Step 9: Made amends when it wouldn’t ruin someone else’s Christmas

After making our naughty list in Step 8 we realized that we had done plenty throughout the year to cause some grief to some people we cherish, and for the holiday we have a chance to be a better version of ourselves while spending time together.

While this might not be the appropriate venue to try and make all the wrongs we have done throughout our drug or alcohol use, it is a good opportunity to give as much of yourself as you can. As long as we are not in danger of ruining anyone’s Christmas, we can try to offer our amends to family or friends for the wrongs of Christmas past. Although sometimes it is best we not turn the celebration into a trip down bad-memory-lane. We should not make Christmas about us, but we can also try to do right in the holiday spirit.

Maybe your friend still isn’t over that time you caught his tree on fire last year. Don’t tell him to go deck his halls. Seriously, it’s just rude. Sometimes it isn’t as simple as going to someone and trying to make it right, because some people just aren’t ready for that yet.

Again, we don’t want to make the family gathering about everyone forgiving us or not. It might stir up unwanted hostility. Christmas is about sharing love and joy for everyone, so maybe make some indirect amends for your own naughty-by-nature Christmas past in the form of colorfully wrapped goodies.

The gifts we can give…

Material things aren’t really what the recovery community typically focuses on when it comes to making an amends. While financial amends or amends pertaining to property may sometimes be in someone’s experience, Christmas isn’t always the venue for that.

Still, who doesn’t enjoy a good gift? For those of us in recovery who have the opportunity and the resources, we can make an honest effort to do something nice for those we owe an amends. Everyone loves a good Christmas present, so some of us actually go out of our way to be a slightly less qualified Santa. But material things aren’t really what makes the difference. We have so much to give of ourselves.

We cannot say it enough, Christmas is about love and compassion; joy and humility; gratitude and hope. So give as much of that as you can to those you have harmed on your naughty list. Even if you go over the top with presents, the best gift is always the gift of your love and compassion.

So go through your naughty list and look for the opportunity to give to those you have wronged. When appropriate, you may even take this opportunity to make amends for your naughty ways. Just try your best to show that true gratitude and generosity in your actions and in your presence.

Spending Christmas facing the impacts of addiction on others can be extremely difficult, but take this opportunity to be more aware of what truly matters and what that means for your recovery. For those struggling this holiday season, ask for help; not just for your family but, for yourself. Give yourself and those who love you the most the best gift you can. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 8

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 8

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We are getting closer and closer folks! Christmas is almost upon us, and so we felt it is a good time to check up on our naughty list with Step 8 of the 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery!

Now I know we said in the last step that all the birds our true love was giving us seemed a bit much, but woah… who needs 8 maids milking? How much milk can one person drink? Why doesn’t your true love just get you a gift card for groceries? And do you own the cows, or the maids… it’s all very confusing!

Never mind, this is getting weird.

Step 8: Made my naughty list and checked myself twice, became willing to make amends and be nice

In Step 5 we created our very own Christmas wish list where we took a step back from the heavy stuff to try and lighten up. But that doesn’t mean we get away with everything that got us on the naughty list.

We talked about watching ourselves through the holiday to make sure we weren’t being a Grinch or Scrooge-ish, while also trying to catch ourselves in those moments of shortcomings in an effort to let go and improve our holiday. Yet, we have still had a whole year to make it on the naughty list, so we should also take a moment to look at that too.

In Step 7 we talked about humility being more about how we treat others instead of how we treat ourselves. Now, we should examine our actions and attitudes throughout our year to recognize where we can do better moving forward. Especially when it comes to how we have impacted other people in the process.

If we are supposed to be bringing peace on earth and goodwill toward others, how have we harmed them through the year? Who do we owe an amends to this Christmas? How can we give that gift to them?

The nicer side of the naughty list…

Now for most people who are familiar with Step 8 as it is used in the recovery fellowships across the world, at first we might find it difficult to see the nicer side of the list. When making a list of our harms, we do not typically take delight in the wrongs we have done to others. However, there is still a great deal of good to come out of looking through a naughty list.

The nicer side of our naughty list comes in recognizing how our own misbehavior has and impact on our current Christmas spirit. We see how many of our troubles are of our own making. We wouldn’t get coal in our stockings if we hadn’t earned it. Some of the adversities we face with our families, friends, spouses or others when it comes time to come together for the holidays is due to the items on our naughty list. Not only are we made aware of our naughty list, we see how in recovery we will be given the chance to make it right for all our Christmases to come.

We have a better chance of making next year’s nice list if we can confront now where we have been a little on the naughty side. Step 8 isn’t just about making a list of our naughtiness; it’s also about becoming willing to make amends for it.

Learning to be nice…

Lets be real, everyone has a few naughty days a year. People in recovery are not the only ones who run the risk of making the cut. Face it, Santa is a little bit judgmental with some pretty unreasonable expectations. I mean, the guy sees you when you’re sleeping, come on!

But I digress… We all have to check our motives and our actions and think on how we plan to be better. People recovering from drug abuse or alcohol addiction tend to have done quite a bit of damage; some at home and some with our professional lives or our education. 

With Step 8, we have to reconcile our discrepancies and learn how to adopt a policy of being nice, especially to those who in the past we have been particularly naughty to.

We learn that while not everyone is as willing as we are to be nice, it is up to us to safe-guard our own sense of Christmas cheer. Our responsibility here is to accept our part and try to find the strength and commitment to be nice, especially when it is hard. Just avoid the morbid self-reflection and remember that you aren’t checking this list twice to beat yourself up; you’re doing it so you don’t have to be on the list next year.

First nice thing you might want to do is give those 8 milk maids the holiday off. I think Christmas will be fine without the extra dairy products.

#12StepsofChristmas

Not everything about Christmas in recovery is going to be as nice as we want. The winter wonderland isn’t always so cheery. Sometimes Christmas is like a snowball to the face. Sometimes we just have to try our best not to be too cold to those who matter most. Give yourself and those who love you the most the best gift you can. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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