April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol Awareness Month was established in 1987 to increase public awareness and understanding of alcoholism and alcohol-related issues. Drinking alcohol in excess can lead to an increased chance of injury, violence, drowning, liver disease and certain types of cancer. Alcohol abuse and alcohol misuse can have serious affects on a person’s health, but it doesn’t just affect the individual. It also affects the people around them.

Alcoholism is considered a chronic disease and it includes the addicted consumption of alcohol as well as the mental illness and compulsive behavior that can come from a dependency on alcohol. It’s characterized by the inability to control drinking due to physical and emotional dependence on alcohol. This year’s theme for Alcohol Awareness Month is, “Talk Early, Talk Often: Parents Can Make a Difference in Teen Alcohol Use”.

Alcoholism can affect people of any age, but the problem can often start early. Those who start drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are 5 times more likely to abuse alcohol than those who started drinking at 21. In 2013, the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that nearly 700,000 American youths between the ages of 12 and 17 had an alcohol use disorder. The same report found that 35% of 15-year-olds have had at least one alcoholic beverage in their lives.

Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to a number of health problems. Alcohol can damage the brain, liver, pancreas, heart, and has been shown to increase the risk of certain types of cancer. In addition to the negative affects that alcohol can have on a person’s health, it also increases the likelihood of engaging in risky behavior, and has been associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, and other behavioral problems.

As dangerous as alcohol can be, it is widely used, and often misused. 89% of Americans over the age of 18 have had a drink at some point in their life, and more than 56% said that they have had a drink in the past month. A glass of wine with dinner isn’t bad for you, but misusing alcohol is. Almost one fourth of Americans over the age of 18 reported that they engaged in binge drinking within the last month.

The theme for this year’s Alcohol Awareness Month focuses on educating young people about the dangers, treatment, and prevention of alcoholism, and stresses the importance of the parents’ role in educating their children about how alcohol can affect their lives.