April is Alcohol Awareness Month!
If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve probably seen the proliferation of internet posts about “wine mommies,” “drink every time a character does ‘X’,” or even viral memes about the results and consequences of excessive consumption. This type of normalization of unhealthy behavior in the US is nothing new: in the 1920’s and 30’s, alcohol was seen as a danger to every family, resulting in the dramatic limitations of the Prohibition era. So, it is not a new phenomenon for Americans to have a problematic relationship with alcohol. What is new in the 21st century is how we approach and understand substance misuse and addiction treatment. One way the US is addressing alcohol misuse is through media campaigns designed to raise awareness, educate the public, and connect people with help or treatment.
The History of the Month
Having themed months in this country dates back over a century, but Alcohol Awareness Month was started in 1987 by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence with a few goals. The first was to raise awareness of the prevalence of alcoholism, as well as to reduce stigma associated with substance misuse disorders as a whole. Beyond simply making the public aware of the dangers of alcohol misuse, the NCADD also wanted to public to learn that long term recovery was a reality for millions of Americans!
Theme of the year
Every year since 1987, Alcohol Awareness Month has had an individual motif: 2018’s is “Changing Attitudes: It’s Not a Rite of Passage.” In other words, alcohol use, misuse, and overconsumption has often been portrayed in society as a normal part of growing up, rather than the warning flag or danger sign it really represents. To be clear: excessive drinking is “extremely dangerous–both to [the individual] and to society–and is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose, unsafe sex and other problem behaviors, even for those who may never develop a dependence or addiction.” By improving awareness of the risks of these seemingly “harmless” behaviors surrounding alcohol use, the NCADD is working to improve the lives of every American in the month of April and throughout the rest of the year.
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