April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Help Prevent Needless Accidents, Illnesses and Deaths

Dateline (Pittsburgh, PA) Drinking too much alcohol increases people’s risk of injuries, violence, drowning, liver disease, and some types of cancer. This April during Alcohol Awareness Month, Family Services of Western Pennsylvania, encourages you to educate yourself and your loved ones about the dangers of drinking too much.

In Pennsylvania alone, there were over 53,000 drunk driving accidents in 2013 (the most recently available statistic). To spread the word and prevent alcohol abuse, Family Services is joining other organizations across the country to honor Alcohol Awareness Month.

Kelley Austin, Ph.D., Senior Manager of Outpatient Services for Family Services, said that, “As with any other drug, alcohol does not discriminate. Alcohol use can leave long term negative effects on us, our loved ones, and our community as a whole. However, special populations of people may be at increased risk, e.g.

  • By age 18, more than 70% of teens have had at least one drink.
  • About half of college students who drink, also consume alcohol through binge drinking
  • Increased sensitivity to alcohol could result in increased health problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, for senior citizens
  • Women typically start to have alcohol-related problems at lower drinking levels than their male counterparts.
  • Hispanics and African American’s have a higher risk of developing alcohol-related liver disease than Caucasians.
  • National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s (NIAAA) National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey, found that those with a history of AUD’s (Alcohol Abuse Disorders), even former drinkers, have a more than fourfold-increased risk for a major depressive episode than those without a history of AUD’s.

“If alcohol use has become problematic”, continued Austin, “harm reduction is encouraged.” According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) harm reduction tips include:

  • Limit drinking to no more than 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks a day for men.
  • Keep track of how much you drink.
  • Choose a day each week when you will not drink.
  • Don’t drink when you are upset.
  • Avoid places where people drink a lot.
  • Make a list of reasons not to drink.

In addition to therapeutic support services, which offer specialized treatment of substance use disorders, other interventions can enhance recovery support of AUD. There a major initiatives underway to support the treatment of AUDs. In order to improve the effectiveness of treatment for AUD’s, pharmaceutical treatments are more readily accepted in the field of behavioral health. Currently, there are three Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medications for the treatment of AUD’s which include Disulfiram (Antabuse), Naltrexone (Revia, Vivitrol), and Acamprosate (Campral). Other medications are also being explored as options as part of the medications development program at NIAAA.

Family Services offers drug and alcohol counseling and educational services for both adults and teens. If you are concerned about someone else’s drinking, offer to help, or have them contact our Point of Entry for services at 1-888-222-4200.