The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) was established in 1944 to help diminish the contempt that often surrounds alcoholism and create awareness among people. Since the year 1987, the month of April has been attributed as Alcohol Awareness Month. This year, NCADD celebrates the 29th anniversary of the Alcohol Awareness Month sponsored by them. Throughout the month of April, the NCADD will work with local communities to spread the message concerning the dangers of alcoholism as well as educating the people about its prevention and treatment.
The NCADD has stated that alcohol is the prevailing addictive substance with one out of every 12 adults or more than 17.6 million people suffering from some form of alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is a progressive, genetically predisposed, and chronic disease which can be lethal if left untreated. While many people have no problem with drinking responsibly, it is estimated that nearly 18 million people in the U.S. or roughly 15 percent of the adult population overindulge in alcohol. What is more disturbing is the fact that nearly 30 percent of Americans experience a problem with drinking during their lifetime. Alcohol is associated in 30 percent of motorized vehicle deaths, 50 percent of drownings, and 50 percent of murders. For those who suffer from alcohol addiction, it is devastating to the individual’s welfare as well as his or her family, career, friends, and community.
Alcoholism was acknowledged as a disease in 1956 by the American Medical Association (AMA). A family history of problem drinking or alcoholism is accounted for in more than half of all adults in the U.S. More importantly, about seven million children reside in a household in which at least one parent has abused alcohol or is dependent on it. Alcoholism can likely be diagnosed when an individual experiences withdrawal symptoms, tremors, anxiety, or insomnia when they stop or cut down on their drinking. A tolerance to alcohol’s effects or when someone needs more alcohol to get intoxicated, walking out on important responsibilities or activities so the person can drink, and drinking more than originally intending to are also used to diagnose alcoholism. This includes spending a great deal of time attaining, drinking, and recovering from alcohol or continually wanting to cut back on drinking including failed attempts to decrease the consumption of alcohol.
The Foundation for a Drug-Free World, has labeled alcohol as a depressant. This means that when a person consumes alcohol, their functioning is slowed down and basic motor functions are impaired. Alcohol use makes a person develop slurred speech, shaky movement, distorted perceptions and judgment, the inability to think rationally, and failure to react quickly. Not only does alcohol affect a person’s mental health such as causing anxiety, depression, and an increased risk of suicide, it also affects their physical health. This is the reason why awareness about alcoholism needs to be spread among people regardless of the contempt surrounding it.
Drinking alcohol excessively can ravage a person’s body from head to toe causing dementia, stroke, nerve damage, hypertension, abnormal heart rhythms, and heart attacks. Additionally, alcoholism could affect the liver causing inflammation, which over time will develop scarring or cirrhosis. This scarring prevents the liver from functioning normally. Alcohol also affects the stomach and pancreas, and can also cause cancer of the colon, mouth, or breast. It also leads to social problems which affect the well-being and health of the family and friends of the alcoholic person. The most important thing to remember is that these individuals are frequently in denial about their addiction and fail to recognize that their condition desperately needs help. Declaring April as the Alcohol Awareness Month is a step in the right direction to diminish the contempt that often surrounds alcoholism and create awareness among people.
By Ankur Sinha