National Alcohol Awareness Month is a stark warning about alcohol and how some abuse it. It’s also a time dedicated to increasing public understanding and awareness of alcohol use disorder, including its causes, effective treatment, and recovery.
But beyond that first alarming message, we can find a time of hope. This month is a prime opportunity to decrease stigmas associated with alcohol abuse and decrease misunderstandings. Thus, we can remove those barriers that make people fear seeking treatment and recovery. The actions we take during National Alcohol Awareness Month can make seeking help easier for those who hide the magnitude of their disease.
History of National Alcohol Awareness Month
National Alcohol Awareness Month was established in 1987 by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). But this initiative started long before that. In fact, NCADD came out of the temperance movement of the 1800s and was founded to address America’s top health problem: alcohol dependence.
Marty Mann was one of the earliest members of Alcoholics Anonymous. The Chicago native’s role was significant, as she was the first woman to have gone through a 12-step group successfully. With her lived experiences surrounding alcohol abuse, it is unsurprising that she was a key player in founding the NCADD in 1945. Mann’s vision was to provide counseling and treatment for alcohol use disorder, treating it as the disease it is and not as moral failures. She was persistent and eventually gained the support of both the medical and scientific research community.
The founding of National Alcohol Awareness Month was in response to the growing need for awareness and education about the dangers and realities of alcohol dependence.
Over the years, this month has grown to include a variety of activities and campaigns to help educate the public. It also helps at-risk people develop responsible attitudes and encourages open discussions about the disease.
How to Celebrate National Alcohol Awareness Month
Celebrating National Alcohol Awareness Month means putting yourself out there, joining in activities that promote understanding and support for those impacted by alcohol abuse, along with their families. Here are some ways you can participate:
Participate in Alcohol-Free Weekend
One of the primary events occurring during National Alcohol Awareness Month is the Alcohol-Free Weekend. It typically comes at the beginning of April. This event encourages people to avoid using alcohol (or illicit drugs, for that matter!) for 72 hours. The reason for this alcohol-free weekend is to demonstrate your support for those who struggle with alcohol dependence. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on one’s personal alcohol use and its impact.
Have the Tough Conversations About Alcohol Misuse
Use the platform offered by this month as an opportunity to initiate open and honest conversations about alcohol misuse. These discussions could be about the risks of binge drinking. They may also speak about the signs of alcohol dependence and the importance of getting help. It’s also a critical time for educating middle school-aged children and teenagers about the dangers of peer pressure and alcohol. The more discussions we have, the more we help destigmatize drinking problems and allow people to seek help without fearing repercussions.
Host Alcohol-Free Social Events
Do you have a gift for party planning? Organize a social gathering sans alcohol and invite everyone you can think of. Besides a party, you can host community events, family get-togethers, or outings with friends. Focus on creating a fun and inclusive atmosphere without the need for alcohol. Be an example, proving that you can have fun without consuming alcohol. Your efforts will show that you support those in recovery.
Educate Yourself and Others
Take the time to educate yourself about alcohol use disorder. Gain a better understanding of its harmful impacts and what’s involved in the recovery process. Share this knowledge through social media, blogs, or community talks. Understanding the science behind addiction can foster empathy and support for those battling alcoholism.
Support Local and National Alcohol Awareness Initiatives
Many healthy living organizations and local agencies host events and campaigns during this month-long event. Participate in these important National Alcohol Awareness Month initiatives to show your support for the cause. Some events you may discover can include alcohol and drug abuse informational seminars, joining awareness walks, or contributing to organizations that help those affected by alcohol dependency.
National Alcohol Awareness Month is a wakeup call, reminding each of us about the challenges faced by those struggling with alcohol use disorder. It also reveals the importance of community support in seeking and sustaining recovery. When we have a greater understanding of and empathy for those who struggle with alcohol abuse, we can all contribute to a healthier society.