Every April since 1987, the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD) and its supporting organizations across the U.S. have addressed on a large scale the nation’s number one public health problem: alcoholism.
Alcohol Awareness Month comprises a series of activities and public service messages delivered across America to increase awareness and understanding of alcoholism, its causes, effective treatment and recovery. It’s also an opportunity to decrease the stigma and misunderstandings in order to dismantle the barriers to treatment and recovery. By doing this, we make help more readily available to those who suffer from this disease, the NCADD says.
Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease that is genetically predisposed and can be fatal, if left untreated. In 2015, there were 138.3 million Americans aged 12 or older who reported current use of alcohol, including 66.7 million who reported binge alcohol use in the past month and 17.3 million who reported heavy alcohol use in the past month. Past month binge drinkers and heavy alcohol users represented 24.9 million and 6.5% of people aged 12 or older, respectively, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
For men, binge alcohol use is defined in NSDUH as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least one day in the past 30 days. For women, binge drinking is defined as drinking four or more drinks on the same occasion on at least one day in the past 30 days. Heavy alcohol use is defined as binge drinking on five or more days in the past 30 days.
The annual survey, in which approximately 67,500 people are asked about their alcohol and drug use, joins many others in flagging alcohol abuse as a serious problem in the U.S. However, people can and do recover. In fact, NCADD estimates that as many as 20 million individuals and family members are currently living their lives in recovery.
Alcohol addiction is a chronic disorder of the brain. It is not a moral failing or personal weakness. The professionals at Advantage Mental Health Center use Food and Drug Administration-approved medication and therapy to help patients overcome the affliction, with the understanding that people with addiction issues often have other mental health concerns, such as anxiety, depression and stress. They note that, to recover successfully from an addiction, it is crucial to treat the mental health issue/issues as well as the addiction.
Outpatient addiction treatment at Advantage Mental Health Center allows patients to maintain their current lifestyle while seeking treatment and working toward the goal of freedom from the condition. Treatment with medication and counseling/behavioral therapy in individual or group settings allows them to live their lives while overcoming addiction – they can still work, attend school, and participate in family events.
With professional counseling, patients learn skills to cope with triggers, stressors, relationships, and life changes without dependency on alcohol or other drugs – something that medication alone cannot provide. All patients are seen by psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or certified addiction professionals who specialize in addiction and can treat the whole person, including any underlying issues.