April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Though alcohol can be used responsibly and is a significant facet of American culture, alcoholism is pervasive and destructive of individuals, families, and entire communities. Alcoholism can affect every aspect of a person’s life, including physical and emotional health, finances, and relationships, and is a much larger problem than many people realize.
The impact of alcohol abuse is staggering:
- 88,000 deaths per year are attributed to alcohol abuse
- Alcohol is the 3rd leading cause of lifestyle-related death in the United States
- Alcohol-related deaths are responsible for roughly 30 lost years of life per person, or a collective 2.5 million years of life in the United States
- Roughly 40% of hospital beds (if you don’t count maternity or intensive care patients) are used for health conditions related to alcohol use
In addition, alcohol is known to cause the following medical problems:
- Dementia, stroke, and neuropathy
- Cardiovascular problems, including myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation, and hypertension
- Psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicide
- Increased risk for many kinds of cancers, including liver, mouth, throat, larynx, and esophagus
- Liver diseases, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis
- Gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis and gastritis
And this doesn’t even account for socioeconomic problems attributable to alcohol abuse, such as unemployment, lost productivity, family problems, violence, child abuse or mistreatment, and homicide.
Join us this April in promoting alcohol awareness and approaching the problem with the appropriate sensibilities. It is important to understand that alcoholism is a disease (not a character weakness), and that most people suffering from alcoholism can’t simply defeat it with a little willpower. The majority of recoveries have been the result of outside assistance. With the right treatment and support systems in place, many are able to recover and return to normal, healthy lives.