Giving Up Alcohol: A 72-Hour Experiment
Alcohol Awareness Month began last week with a challenge to all Americans to go alcohol free for one weekend to raise awareness about the harmful effects of drinking and how it may be affecting others around you. Many of us consume alcohol in a responsible manner as an accepted practice in our society, which is reinforced through social get-togethers with our family and friends. But for millions of Americans, alcohol can cause devastating problems. Social workers know all too well this addiction not only impacts the individual but their loved ones, too.
Alcohol Awareness Month
The alcohol-free weekend kicked off the 27th Annual Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). This national grassroots effort was first observed in 1987, and today, communities throughout the United States work together to support prevention, research, education, intervention, treatment and recovery from alcoholism and alcohol-related problems.
This year’s Alcohol Awareness theme — Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow — was designed to draw attention to the pervasive impact that alcohol, alcoholism and alcohol-related problems have on young people, their friends, families and communities. In a show of solidarity for those coping with alcohol-related problems, participants were asked to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages for a 72-hour period to demonstrate alcohol isn’t necessary to have a good time. If participants found it difficult to go without alcohol during this period, they are urged to seek more information about the warning signs of alcohol abuse.
Facts About Alcoholism
The goal of Alcohol Awareness Month is to recognize the damaging effects of alcohol and alcoholism and to renew support for individuals battling to overcome addiction. Here are a few facts about alcoholism from the NCADD website:
- Alcoholism and alcohol-related problems affect all Americans, directly or indirectly, as our nation’s No. 1 public health problem.
- Currently, nearly 14 million Americans — one in every 13 adults — abuse alcohol or are alcoholic. Several million more adults engage in risky drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems.
- Approximately 53 percent of Americans report that one or more of their close relatives has a drinking problem.
- In purely economic terms, alcohol abuse problems cost society more than $224 billion per year due to lost productivity, health care costs, business loss and criminal justice costs.
- Alcoholism does not discriminate; it affects people of all ages, ethnicities, genders, geographic regions and socioeconomic levels.
- Many people are still unaware that alcoholism is a disease that can be treated like other health disorders.
- Individuals who embrace recovery achieve improved mental and physical health and develop stronger relationships and a sense of self-worth.
10 Things You Can Do
The NCADD recommends a number of actions you can take to increase the impact of Alcohol Awareness Month. Depending on populations they serve, social workers can play a leadership role. Here are 10 ways you can make a difference:
1. Recognize the clients and families, young people and community members you know who lead alcohol- and other drug-free lifestyles.
2. Teach a class or speak at a church or community event on alcohol prevention strategies, such as parental involvement.
3. Discuss critical skills for understanding alcohol-selling techniques with clients you serve.
4. Teach that abstinence from alcohol is an acceptable lifelong decision, and drinking can be risky; intervene when you have a concern.
5. If you work with schools or are raising school-age children, raise awareness about the rules regarding the use of alcohol and enforcement, and advocate for confidential health services and community service opportunities.
6. Ask your schools and universities to enforce a zero-tolerance policy on the illegal consumption of alcohol by students both on and off campus.
7. Support education programs on college campuses that include information on alcoholism prevention and treatment.
8. If you drink, be sure to set an ongoing, healthy example regarding adult alcohol use and never brag about your use of alcohol or other drugs.
9. Work with businesses in your area to offer discounts or free admission to members of the community who have signed a pledge to remain alcohol free.
10. If you are concerned about yourself, a friend, family member or client, call NCADD. Its network of affiliates will connect you with someone who is specifically trained and experienced in helping individuals and families deal with alcohol-related problems.
Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow
“The good news is that we are making progress,” says Robert J. Lindsey, president/CEO of NCADD. “It is now estimated that more than 20 million individuals and family members are living lives in recovery. These individuals have achieved healthy lifestyles, both physically and emotionally, and contribute in positive ways to their communities.”