The month of April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and the goal of this public health program is to educate the public on issues related to alcohol abuse and alcohol abuse syndrome. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence started Alcohol Awareness Month in 1987, and ever since, it has been an important movement for combating the negative impacts of alcohol.
In this article, we discuss the issue of alcohol abuse and how individuals and their families can deal with alcohol-related issues. Also, we share a variety of options for people who are directly or indirectly impacted by alcohol abuse. Additionally, we discuss several ways that individuals can participate in Alcohol Awareness Month, even during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
What is alcohol abuse?
Alcohol abuse occurs when an individual drinks excessively and continues to do so despite negative consequences. These negative consequences can include problems with their health, interpersonal relationships, and professional performance.
Alcohol abuse is different from alcohol abuse syndrome. Alcohol abuse syndrome occurs when a person’s alcohol abuse develops into dependence on alcohol. A typical sign of alcohol abuse syndrome is the individual engaging in drink-seeking behavior, such as searching for events or social gatherings where the individual will have the opportunity to drink. Another common sign of alcohol dependence is when the individual needs to drink increasingly larger volumes of alcohol over time to achieve their desired feeling.
When a person with alcohol abuse syndrome stops using alcohol, they may exhibit withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include intense mood swings and trouble sleeping. Some individuals even exhibit physical shaking, also known as tremors, when they do not have alcohol regularly.
A person with alcohol abuse syndrome can exhibit increasingly self-destructive behavior over time. The person’s behavior can lead to them losing their job, getting into legal trouble with driving under the influence, and alienating their friends and family.
How can families and individuals deal with alcohol abuse syndrome?
When an individual falls victim to alcohol abuse syndrome, their family and circle of friends are impacted, too. The individual with alcohol abuse syndrome can lash out at their family and friends, who often go through great struggle to care for the person in their time of need. These episodes can be saddening and emotionally troublesome for the affected individual’s family and friends.
Sometimes, family and friends can develop an unhealthy relationship with the affected individual. In hopes of maintaining ties or being able to monitor the affected individual, friends and family may inadvertently support the individual’s alcohol habit. Rather than a direct supply of alcohol, this support is often indirect, such as providing the affected individual with money or other assistance, such as food and housing. With this support, the affected individual can continue drinking alcohol and servicing their alcohol dependence. While help from friends and family may calm the waters in the short term, it only prolongs and reinforces the affected individual’s alcohol dependence.
The best way to deal with alcohol abuse syndrome is with the help of a trained medical professional. A trained medical professional can help ensure that the affected individual is properly cared for and has an appropriate recovery plan. Additionally, the trained medical professional can help ensure that the individual’s family does not engage in behavior that is counterproductive for the individual’s recovery.
Help from a trained medical professional can start with the affected individual talking with their doctor. Additional support can come in the form of ongoing counseling sessions with trained therapists. Other methods for addressing alcohol abuse syndrome include inpatient detox programs, where the affected individual can receive treatment in a monitored and controlled environment. In many cases, counseling sessions for the family of the affected individual can also be helpful.
How to take part in Alcohol Awareness Month during the COVID-19 pandemic
For April 2020, many organizations have canceled their Alcohol Awareness Month events out of respect for recent social distancing guidelines. However, these cancellations do not mean that a person cannot participate in Alcohol Awareness Month this year.
One way to participate is Alcohol Awareness Month during the current public health crisis is to reach out to others who may be struggling with alcohol. The added stress and increased isolation from the pandemic can be particularly difficult for individuals with alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency issues. Without their support network, individuals who are at risk of abusing alcohol can quickly relapse into harmful behaviors. A call or video chat with an at-risk loved one can help the at-risk individual feel supported.
Additionally, if a friend or loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, encourage them to speak with a medical professional. Many medical professionals are now meeting with patients remotely via video conference. These medical professionals can help an individual find and access treatment. Many alcohol-abuse support groups and 12-step programs now have a telehealth option.
Lastly, people who want to participate in Alcohol Awareness Month can take part in an alcohol-free week or weekend. A person can organize this activity among a family or group of friends. Participation in an alcohol-free period is healthy for everyone involved, and it can help bring awareness to the harmful effects of alcohol abuse for others, too.
How Dallas Behavioral Health Hospital can help affected individuals
Dallas Behavioral Health Hospital can help individuals who suffer from alcohol dependency. We offer a variety of programs and treatment plans that we can tailor to each individual’s needs.
We base many treatment options on the proven 12-step model, and we help patients maintain sobriety by implementing an evidence-based relapse prevention curriculum. Additionally, we offer a Dual Diagnosis/Detox Program in Dallas for individuals who suffer from chemical dependence and mental health issues simultaneously.