Alcohol Awareness Month 2020

in Alcohol
Published Apr 1, 2020
alcohol awareness month

Typically, April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Alcohol awareness is something many people in the recovery industry, and those offering addiction services, almost automatically seek to increase awareness about in April. 

Alcohol Awareness Month originated in 1987 and was founded by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, later renamed Facing Addiction with NCADD. The goal of this national grassroots movement was to create awareness and education for the public about the dangers of alcohol, as well as what alcohol use disorder is, its causes and effects, and effective treatment for it. It also aimed to help reduce the stigma and provide information about recovery.

Even though Facing Addiction is no more, we decided to keep the tradition of Alcohol Awareness Month going and create an awareness blog about alcohol, specifically alcohol use disorder, the signs and symptoms someone might have a problem with alcohol, what a normal size drink is, and how to get help if you or a loved one is showing signs of having a problem with alcohol. 

How common is alcohol use disorder in the US?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an estimated 20.3 million Americans struggle with a drug or alcohol problem.

A recent editorial in the American Psychological Association indicated that:

  • Three out of five people ages 12 or older (164.8 million people) reported using alcohol and other psychoactive substances (e.g., marijuana, cocaine, heroin) in the past month;
  • 14.8 million people were diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder (SAMHSA, 2019). 

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), an estimated 88,0000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

What is most challenging about substance use disorders is that 95 percent of people do not see their substance use as problematic, and for those who do, only one out of nine people actually get the care they need (SAMHSA, 2019).

How do you know if you — or your loved one — has a drinking problem? If you’re unsure, you may first want to consider the standard recommendations when it comes to drinking. If a person is consuming more than these recommended drinking limits, then you may want to consider the assessment tools we’ve identified.

What are healthy drinking recommendations?

NIAAA recommends that low-risk drinking is drinking no more than 7 drinks per week for women, and 14 for men.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, alcohol should be consumed in moderation, which they define as one drink per day for women and two for men, and that those drinks are consumed in conjunction with healthy eating patterns.

A standard drink isn’t necessarily the size of the container that you buy it in. For example, some measures of wine poured in a bar exceed the amount that is classed as a standard drink. If you’re unsure, check the label.

What is a standard drink?Source: Rethinking Drinking (NIAAA)

Given that many social situations and engagements revolve around consuming one or more drinks, it can mean that you exceed the normal limits quickly. But just when does it become a problem?

What are the signs of a drinking problem?

There are a number of online assessments that can help you determine if you or a loved one has developed a problem with alcohol. That problem could be defined as “binge drinking” or even meet a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder. 

What is binge drinking?

According to NIAAA and SAMHSA, binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration to a certain level (0.08 g/dL), or when women have consumed four drinks, and men five, within a two-hour timeframe. SAMHSA defines heavy alcohol use as binge drinking on five or more days within the last month.

Drinking beyond these limits and experiencing a number of other effects or consequences may mean a person has developed alcohol use disorder.

What are the signs of alcohol use disorder?

To be diagnosed with alcohol use disorder, you must meet at least two criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) within the last 12 months, as follows:

  • Drinking more, or for longer, than intended
  • Tried to moderate drinking but could not
  • Drinking, or being sick from drinking, impacted your ability to take care of responsibilities at home, work, or school 
  • Spent a lot of time drinking, and/or being sick afterwards
  • Experienced strong craving, need, or urge to drink
  • Continued to drink despite the impact on home, work, or school
  • On more than one occasion, had drinking increase the likelihood of getting hurt or hurting others through drunk driving, unsafe sex, walking in dangerous areas
  • Drank in spite of feelings of anxiety or depression, or any other health problem
  • Replaced activities with drinking
  • Experienced memory blackout
  • Increased tolerance to drinking; needing to drink more to have the desired effect
  • Experienced withdrawal symptoms: difficulty sleeping, shaking, sweating, nausea, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, or restlessness

Alcohol use disorder is categorized as mild, moderate, or severe, depending upon how many of the criteria are met. A mental health professional is best placed to make this diagnosis.

Polysubstance misuse

While many people have a dependence on a specific drug, like alcohol, some use more than one substance. For example: alcohol and cocaine, Adderall and alcohol, marijuana and alcohol, Oxycodone and alcohol. 

Similar to alcohol use disorder, to be diagnosed with polysubstance dependence, a person would need to have used more than one substance over the course of 12 months and experience many of the factors identified in the DSM (as indicated above).

Getting help for alcohol use disorder

Given the severity of alcohol use disorder, if you think that you, or your loved one, has developed a problem with alcohol, this should not go untreated. 

Detox is a crucial first step in most people’s recovery journey. Detoxifying from addictive substances presents a number of potentially fatal medical risks, psychological challenges, and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. That’s why recovery can be challenging to achieve alone and often necessitates detox interventions. 

SAMHSA’s recommendations for detox

“For alcohol, sedative-hypnotic, and opioid withdrawal syndromes, hospitalization or some form of 24-hour medical care is generally the preferred setting for detoxification, based upon principles of safety and humanitarian concerns.”

—SAMHSA Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment Improvement Protocol, TIP 45

However, not all detox options are the same. Many medical detox centers use outdated protocols and oral medications within the confines of psychiatric facilities, leaving patients feeling dehumanized while they stay in a sterile and cold environment.

The Gallus Method of Detox

Gallus Medical Detox provides the comfort of a residential facility, but with clinical expertise that is far superior to most detox facilities. We offer safe, effective, and personalized treatment. We are so proud of our proprietary method that we named it The Gallus Method. 

The key features of Gallus Medical Detox include:

  • Individual treatment plans
  • Psychological, physical, and social assessments
  • IV Therapy Program
  • 24/7 medical supervision
  • Cardiac telemetry and video technology
  • Adjustments to treatment plans to suit our patients’ needs
  • An individual recovery plan identifying resources and next steps toward a long-term recovery

Detox options

Gallus Medical Detox offers the following detox services at all of our centers:

  • Opiate detox treatment
  • Alcohol detox treatment
  • Polysubstance detox treatment
  • Benzodiazepine detox treatment
  • Stimulant detox treatment 
  • High-dose methadone detox treatment
  • Other drug detox treatment (THC, bath salts, kratom, barbiturates)

We also have the expertise to treat patients with acute substance use disorders, polysubstance use disorders, and co-occurring mental health or chronic physical conditions. 

Our programs are designed to effect lasting change. Before leaving, you will work with a psychologist who will conduct a biopsychosocial evaluation that helps to identify the next steps in your recovery journey. We want to ensure your success in long-term recovery.

Gallus Medical Detox Centers are accredited by the Joint Commission, the nation’s largest standards-setting and accreditation body in healthcare, reflecting our clinical excellence. We are also a level III, medically monitored inpatient detoxification center, as outlined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

What our patients say about Gallus Medical Detox

Our patients are the best judges of the quality of our care. Here is what they have to say:

  • “From the first ‘hello’ when I finally gathered the courage to call, I knew I made the right choice. I’ve felt cared for and cared about. The staff proactively made my detox as comfortable as possible. When I started freaking out about where I was going to go after I finished detox, they worked with me to figure out my next step. I’ll be forever grateful to the entire staff!”
  • “I cannot express in words my deep appreciation for the kindness and very individualized care delivered by motivated and professional caregivers.”
  • “I’ll be forever in your debt. I want to thank you so much. The people at work were the most caring — they’re concerned about your individual treatment plans and I couldn’t ask for anything better than that. You guys literally saved my life. Thank you so much.”
  • “My stay at Gallus was the best experience. I have stayed at other detox centers, and this one is 100 percent better. The staff is incredible.”

Call us today to take the best first step toward recovery: 888 306 3122