April is Alcohol Awareness Month. It’s time to break the stigma associated with alcoholism and start treating it as we would any other chronic, potentially terminal diseases. Far too long, society, and entertainment industries have reinforced the stereotype of the alcoholics a drunk, homeless man begging on the street. This is only one of the many masks’ alcoholism hides behind. Reality is far different. Alcoholism affects people from all walks of life, regardless of their gender, age, or social status.
Alcoholism affects the lives of millions of people worldwide. Did you know that alcoholism claims more than 90,000 lives every year in the United States alone? It is the cause of almost one-third of all driving fatalities. Alcoholism is the third-leading preventable cause of death in the country, yet few people understand how to identify and address the disease. Breaking the stigma surrounding alcoholism and recognizing the problem is the first and most critical step in taking the issue head-on.
Addressing the issue of alcoholism requires courage, understanding, and empathy. Alcoholism is not a moral failing, but a treatable disease requiring medical attention. Unfortunately lack of quality health insurance, money for copays, the ability to take time away from work and personal responsibility and of course stigma keep millions of suffering alcoholics from receiving treatment. The My Mental Health App
(Available at mymentalhealth.org) was created so these and other impediments to treatment can be overcome. No cost, anonymous, alcoholism solutions and programs are now immediately available on your phone tablet or PC at My Mental Health. All content is available in both English and Spanish.
Fear of being discovered and outed is the number one reason alcoholics are reluctant to seek treatment. Breaking the stigma requires education and understanding. Alcohol and substance use education needs start at an early age, preferably in grammar school. Numerous studies have demonstrated if someone can avoid consuming alcohol until the age of twenty-one, they can reduce their chances of becoming alcoholic by up to 90 %. Currently in the United States, one in five adults meets the clinical criteria for substance use disorder. Forward thinking employers realize that by providing alcohol education, treatment and care they can lower overall health care costs while reducing employee turnover.
April is a crucial month to recognize the issue of alcoholism, raise awareness, and break the stigma surrounding it. Alcoholism is a serious problem that affects millions of people worldwide claiming hundreds of thousands of lives annually. It is a treatable disease. With treatment long-term recovery is possible. The time has come to address this chronic medical condition head-on. We can begin by providing the care and empathy we do other chronic diseases. Let’s break the stigma surrounding alcoholism and pledge to work together to create a society free from the risks and dangers of alcohol addiction.
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