Fighting Against Alcoholism During Alcohol Awareness Month

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Peace Valley Recovery is located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Our mission is to provide patient-centered care that focuses on healing and recovery from addiction. This blog provides information, news, and uplifting content to help people in their recovery journey.

Authored by Elliott Redwine, | Medically Reviewed by Peace Valley Recovery Editorial Staff,
Last Updated: March 5, 2023

Fighting Against Alcoholism During Alcohol Awareness Month

Every April marks Alcohol Awareness Month, an important campaign in the fight against alcohol abuse and alcoholism. The campaign provides groups and organizations across the U.S. with a springboard for conversations about alcohol abuse prevention and treatment. Even though many people realize the impact of alcoholism, there is still more work to do.

The need for Alcohol Awareness Month in Pennsylvania is no secret. Alcohol impacts almost everyone’s life in at least some way, especially after this last year. A sharp increase in time spent alone due to COVID-19 sent many people searching for a way to relieve the fear and uncertainty. The rise in rates of alcohol use and abuse signals an ongoing need for awareness and change.

Alcohol Awareness Month offers a reason to reflect on the current state of alcohol use in Pennsylvania and the U.S. as a whole. There’s no better time to learn about the ways alcohol abuse affects both the people who drink and those who love them. What can you do to not only increase your understanding of alcoholism but share it with those around you?

History of Alcohol Awareness Month

Drinking is a prevalent part of society today. You can find a drink just about anywhere you go, from a restaurant to a sporting event to a baby shower. Meeting for drinks is a common way to get to know someone new or to unwind after a long day at work. Plenty of holidays seem to be centered around drinking, too, like St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and even Superbowl Sunday.

When drinking has become an almost societal expectation, it’s easier to overlook a person’s potential problem with alcohol. Drinking is so commonplace in society that recognizing when someone is out of line can be difficult. There’s a notable line between social and problem drinking, though, and knowing where that line lies is important.

Alcohol Awareness Month was founded by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in 1987. NCADD established the campaign to reduce the stigma surrounding alcohol abuse and alcoholism. They aimed to educate people on the signs and symptoms of alcoholism, as well as effective treatment and recovery.

Though the organization is no longer in operation, NCADD’s dedication to increasing public understanding of alcoholism endures. Organizations across the country recognize Alcohol Awareness Month each April and continue the important work that NCADD started. It’s an important part of the fight against the impacts that excessive alcohol use has on people across the country.

Understanding Alcoholism

Millions of people throughout the United States use alcohol regularly. According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 50.8 percent of people ages 12 and older (or 139.7 million people) had at least one drink in the last month. Despite these exorbitant numbers, though, not everyone progresses to the point of problematic alcohol use.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism separates dangerous drinking levels into three stages: binge drinking, heavy alcohol use, and alcohol use disorder. Binge drinking describes any pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to the legal limit of 0.08 percent or higher. This means about 4 drinks for women or 5 drinks for men in 2 hours. 23.9 percent of people report binge drinking at least once in the past month.

Heavy alcohol use means having 5 or more binge drinking episodes during a 30-day period. Anyone who binge drinks at least 5 times within a month meets the criteria for heavy alcohol use. 5.8 percent of people surveyed reported drinking behaviors that qualify as heavy alcohol use. Drinkers in this category are at a far higher risk of progressing to the point of developing alcohol use disorder.

Alcoholism: Symptoms and Therapy Options

Alcohol use disorder is a far more serious condition. AUD is characterized by a pattern of compulsive drinking that continues regardless of the negative consequences. The DSM-5 outlines the criteria used to diagnose alcohol use disorder. Clinicians then classify AUD on a spectrum ranging from mild to moderate to severe depending on the number of criteria met.

5.3 percent of those ages 12 and older in the U.S., or 14.5 million people, meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder. This means 1 in 20 people have at least some level of a compulsive drinking problem in the United States. These staggering numbers are exactly why Alcohol Awareness Month is still necessary.