Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol Awareness Month

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Highlights:
  • The Alcohol Awareness Month (AAM) is observed annually in the US in April.
  • The 2017 AAM theme is Connecting the Dots: Opportunities for Recovery, aimed at bringing together parents, especially of young adults who are the worst hit section of the population.
  • Alcoholism is a major chronic progressive illness, responsible for the social, psychological and physiological collapse of the alcoholic as well as those around him.
April is the designated Alcohol Awareness Month (AAM) in the United States. In 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) marked the month of April for sustained efforts to cast light on alcohol abuse and disorder, considered the No.1 public health issue in the US. Each year, April sees a conglomeration of events and media outreach organized all over the country, across local, state and national level communities. The NCADD's National Network of Affiliates along with several other organizing bodies come together to generate awareness, circulate information on alcohol addiction and rehabilitation, pull down the social stigma associated with alcoholism, and encourage addicted individuals and their families to seek help.
Alcohol Awareness Month

The AAM 2017 theme is "Connecting the Dots: Opportunities for Recovery". Alcohol addiction is generally at its peak among young adults and that makes parents a vital factor when it comes to recovery and treatment strategies. The aim this year is to encourage parent-child conversations regarding the dangers associated with alcohol and drug abuse. It has been found that youngsters who engage in extended discussions with their parents tend to be at a 50% less risk of developing addiction, compared to young people who do not have 'the talk'.

Andrew Pucher, President and CEO of NCADD, states, "Alcohol and drug use is a very risky business for young people, and parents can make a difference. The longer children delay drinking and drug use, the less likely they are to develop any problems associated with it. That's why it is so important to help your child connect the dots and make smart decisions about alcohol and drugs."

A little parent-child talk with your young one can go a long way in saving not only your child's future, but perhaps also his or her life, along with the fates of all those people who might be affected by his or her addiction problems, and who might even pay with their lives!

What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is one of the most severe forms of alcohol abuse, associated with far-reaching implications on both the affected individual and his surrounding environment. The consequences could be social, psychological, or physiological in nature. It is a chronic and progressive illness intimately linked with a breakdown in the mental and physical health of the alcoholic, simultaneously affecting his family and loved ones, besides instigating social dysfunction at large.

Some of the most severe physiological consequences of aggressive habitual drinking can be:
  • Effects on Brain Mechanism: Alcohol affects brain communication making it difficult to think clearly and disrupting coordination.
  • Effects on Heart Health: Excessive alcohol intake can affect the normal functioning of the heart causing high blood pressure, arrhythmias or irregular heart beat, cardiomyopathy, which is the stretching and drooping of the heart muscle, and stroke.
  • Effects on the Liver: The liver is highly affected by heavy drinking routines, leading to problems such as fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis of the liver.
  • Effects on the Pancreas: Excess alcohol consumption can take its toll on the pancreas causing pancreatitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels in the pancreas that can be life threatening.
  • Increased Risk of Cancer: Alcohol abuse for an extended period of time can increase the risk of several types of cancer- of the mouth, the throat, the larynx, the liver, the esophagus and even the breast.
  • Effects on the Immune System: Alcoholism affects the overall immunity of the individual, making the addicted person much more susceptible to diseases and infections than normal.
Heavy drinking is also responsible for:
  • Driving accidents often resulting in fatality
  • Violent behavior problems
  • Suicidal tendencies often leading to death
  • Crimes and homicide
Approximately 17.6 million people in the US suffer from chronic drinking problems, with several more millions indulging in drinking patterns that could easily turn into addiction. It is the 3rd leading cause of death in the country, responsible for roughly 2.5 million deaths annually.

How Much is Too Much?
What qualifies as heavy drinking depends on how much is drunk and how often. These standards could vary from person to person, depending on capacity of liquor intake. However, the general accepted standard for heavy drinking is:
  • For men, more than 4 drinks on any given day
  • For women, more than 3 drinks on any given day
A one off incident of heavy drinking will not qualify as an alcohol disorder, but a regular pattern of excess liquor consumption, too much, too often, can easily be at a high risk of dependence.

In India at present, about 10-20 million people are estimated to be in need of treatment for alcohol dependence. According to OECD data, over a period of 20 years, alcohol consumption in India has increased over 55%.
  • Men: about 30-35% adult males in India consume alcohol regularly
  • Women: only about 5% women consume alcohol in India
Interestingly, there is a much higher incidence of liquor intake among lower income groups in India, when compared to higher income groups. High levels of alcohol consumption are also directly related to the increasingly high crime rates in the country, especially against women. According to a study done by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: "At least one-half of all violent crimes involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, the victim, or both. Researchers have consistently found that men who have been drinking alcohol commit approximately one-half of all sexual assaults...."

Habitual drinking impairs judgment and can bring a person down to the level of a beast. Besides being an enormous health hazard for the alcoholic, it is also a major social nuisance.

It is therefore imperative to quell the stigma surrounding alcoholism and come to the rescue of all those sufferers who might not be aware of their condition, or, might not know the best way to seek help. If you reach out, you'd be helping save not just one person, but possibly an entire society. The AAM is dedicated to doing just that.

References:
  1. Alcohol Awareness Month - (https:www.ncadd.org/aam)
  2. What's "at-risk" or "heavy" drinking? - (https:www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/How-much-is-too-much/Is-your-drinking-pattern-risky/Whats-At-Risk-Or-Heavy-Drinking.aspx)
Source: Medindia

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