April is Alcohol Awareness Month. It’s an opportunity to increase awareness about alcohol misuse, understand the possible causes of addiction, and learn about support groups and treatment options that are available.
American drinking is on the rise. Many individuals use alcohol and other substances to cope with stress, fear, anxiety, depression, boredom, loneliness, and loss. Alcohol use is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States. It claims the lives of more than 90,000 Americans every year. Know the facts on alcohol use.
Alcohol use disorder (which includes a level that’s sometimes called alcoholism) is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.
Unhealthy alcohol use includes any alcohol use that puts your health or safety at risk or causes other alcohol-related problems. It also includes binge drinking — a pattern of drinking where a male consumes five or more drinks within two hours or a female downs at least four drinks within two hours. Binge drinking causes significant health and safety risks.
If your pattern of drinking results in repeated significant distress and problems functioning in your daily life, you likely have alcohol use disorder. It can range from mild to severe. However, even a mild disorder can escalate and lead to serious problems, so early treatment is important.
Learn more about addiction through our free online NM 5-Actions Program self guided roadmap to understanding and addressing addiction.
If you wonder if life would be better without alcohol, you might be sober curious. Learn more about sober curiosity here. And when you are feeling stress, fear and anxiety, depression, boredom, loneliness, or dealing with loss, instead of using alcohol to cope, know that there are services and resources available to help with these feelings. When you are considering reducing your alcohol use, quitting. and/or abstaining altogether: support and resources are available year-round to help manage your alcohol use:
- Try making a small change, like keeping track of your alcohol use (on an app like Saying When), setting limits, or drinking water in between alcoholic drinks, can make a big difference.
- Know how much alcohol you can drink at a safe level.
- Consider a support group and talk to others that are looking for a path to recovery. There are Alcoholics Anonymous meetings happening all the time. Find one near you here.
- Learn more about how to start a conversation on alcohol use at a Dose of Wellness.
- Find counseling and treatment options that are available in your community through Treatment Connection.