April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Companion Benefit Alternatives (CBA) encourages you to educate yourself and your loved ones about the dangers of drinking. Alcohol and drug use by young people is extremely dangerous, even for those who may never develop a dependence or addiction.
Alcohol is the most used substance by youth and adults in the United States. Alcohol Awareness Month allows communities to focus on spreading awareness and reducing the stigma associated with alcohol addiction. Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
Drinking too much alcohol regularly can damage your body and your brain. Here’s how alcohol can affect your body:
- Brain: Alcohol can affect the way your brain works. This can change mood and behavior, make it harder to think clearly and make it harder to move with coordination.
- Liver: Drinking heavily takes a toll on your liver and can lead to a variety of inflammations including cirrhosis, fibrosis and alcoholic hepatitis.
- Heart: Drinking alcohol can damage the heart, causing problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, cardiomyopathy and arrhythmias.
Talking to kids about alcohol
Young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.
Parents, talk to your children. If you drink, remember to set an ongoing healthy example for alcohol use. It can be daunting to talk to your children about drinking and drug use, but it is well worth the effort. Research shows that kids who have conversations with their parents about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50 percent less likely to use these substances than those who don’t have such conversations.
If you are concerned about yourself, a friend or family member, help is available. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helps individuals and families deal with alcohol-related problems. It can connect you with a trained professional.
Alcoholism is a treatable disease. It is not a moral weakness. People can and do recover. Millions of individuals and family members are living lives in long-term recovery.