Alcoholism was finally recognized as a national crisis due to the many negative effects it can when consumed in excess. The month of April was set aside to build awareness about the dangers of excessive drinking as many people do not realize that they are abusing alcohol and others use it without the knowledge of how it can affect their health in the process.

Facts about Alcoholism
Research from 2014 shows that excessive drinking accounted for about one in 10 deaths of US adults ages 20 to 64 between 2006 and 2010. Since then, research has shown that when consumed in excess, alcohol can take an average of 30 years off the user’s life.

It is also a major contributing factor of sexual abuse in colleges. About 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 fall victim to rape and sexual assault due to alcoholism.

Excessive consumption of alcohol has also been linked in the deaths of college students. Studies show that approximately 1,825 students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year due unintentional injuries related to alcohol.

What is considered alcohol abuse?

  • It is alcohol abuse when anyone under the legal drinking age consumes alcohol—21 in the US.
  • When a pregnant woman consumes more than the limit of alcohol specified by her doctor during pregnancy, it is considered alcohol abuse.
  • Pregnant women are advised to avoid alcohol for the health of themselves and their babies.
  • Heavy drinking in men and women is consuming more than eight to 15 alcoholic drinks in one week. Binge drinking is when a man or woman consumes more than four to five drinks in one occasion.

Effects of alcoholism
Excessive consumption of alcohol can cause many negative health effects including damage to your liver, breast cancer and even heart disease.

  • Excessive alcohol use in schools can be disastrous to the community and the students themselves. When alcohol consumption is high among students, there is an increased chance of drunk driving incidents, sexual assault and violence, as well as lowered academic performance.
  • Students who drink excessively are also at a higher risk of suicide.
  • Alcoholism typically starts at an early age. During high school and college many students engage in excessive drinking which can have a larger impact on their lives later down the road.
  • Operating heavy machinery and vehicles while intoxicated can endanger the lives of more than just those at fault.
  • Alcoholism can also affect one’s job if the excessive consumption of alcohol transcends into the workplace.
  • Alcoholism can destroy families. Excessive drinking can cause issues with communication, lack of empathy or concern and, in more serious cases, violence—all of which could break a family’s bond.

How to support those who are suffering from alcoholism?
Whether it is a family member or a friend, if you notice signs of excessive alcohol consumption, consider talking to them about their drinking habits to voice your concern. Most of the time, they may not realize the effect it’s having on those around them or on their own health. Rather than express disappointment or shame in their habits, you should demonstrate your support in helping them overcome their alcoholism. Your support may be enough to help them quit.

For parents with kids in high school and college, it is good to educate your son or daughter on the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption. Monitor their behavior and environment to help prevent excessive drinking. Talking to them and being open is the best way to communicate your concerns.

If you recognize that you have a drinking problem, know that you’re not alone. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help in coping with your addiction. Talk to your friends and family for support or visit a rehab center with professionals who can assist with your treatment.

Attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings can also help. Interacting with others who have been through the same thing may help to motivate you to stay sober. Hearing other people’s stories can sometimes make it easier to believe that alcohol is dangerous.

How you can help spread awareness of alcoholism?
Alcohol is the drug of choice among many young adults, killing more people than other illegal drugs. There are awareness campaigns in which you can participate by talking to members of your community about the dangers of excessive alcohol usage. It’s important to educate children about the dangers of excessive drinking and the impact it can have on their future. If you are worried that someone you know is alcoholic, try talking to them about your concerns.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Tweet about it. Post about it on Facebook. Share it with your family and friends. The goal is to spread awareness and educate more members of the community about the dangers of alcoholism and ways in which you can assist those in need. If we stand together and support each other, we can stop alcoholism.