Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug in the United States. More than 18 million Americans suffer from some form of alcohol consumption disorder, and their affliction has a profound effect on millions of their family members and loved ones. More than one in four American children are directly exposed to adults who abuse alcohol. To combat these statistics the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) established April as Alcohol Awareness Month in 1987. By increasing awareness of and education about the dangers of alcohol abuse, this organization hopes to reduce binge drinking and other abusive behaviors.
The NCADD focuses much of its efforts on prevention and education, particularly among young people. This year, the theme of Alcohol Awareness Month is “For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction.” Studies show that teens who begin drinking at age 15 are four times more likely to develop an alcohol-related disorder when compared to those who waited until 20. Often young people do not understand their limits or the dangers of drinking, and their need to hide their drinking often leads to binging and overconsumption. Teenage drinking is directly linked to academic failure, traffic accidents, violence, and suicide. Alcohol Awareness Month provides an excellent opportunity to talk to the young people in your life about the dangers of alcohol.
Alcohol Awareness Month also provides a valuable opportunity to evaluate your own drinking habits. Many habitual users of alcohol slowly increase their use without realizing it. If you find yourself hung over regularly, or if friends and family have been commenting on your drinking, even in a joking manner, it may be time to reassess your consumption habits. Sometimes this can be as simple as sitting down and actually counting the number of drinks you have in a week in or a month. Habitual drinkers are often surprised by how quickly they add up. More severe cases of alcohol abuse or dependence may require professional help.
Although Alcohol Awareness Month focuses on young people this year, the effects of alcohol abuse echo through every level of society. Alcohol abuse is responsible for more than 88,000 deaths every year. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated the economic cost of alcohol abuse to be $223 billion per year, mostly in lost workplace productivity and medical costs associated with the abuse of alcohol.
Although drinking alcohol can be a way to relax and enjoy time with friends, Alcohol Awareness Month reminds us that alcohol is a drug that can be easily abused.
About The Author: Jason Konvicka is a partner with Allen & Allen in Richmond, Virginia. During his 20+ year career he has achieved numerous record-setting jury verdicts and substantial medical malpractice settlements on behalf of his clients. Outside of the courtroom, Jason is highly involved with the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and currently serves on it’s Board of Governors as Vice President.
 Follow the link for resources for dealing with alcoholism and addiction: http://www.recovery.org/topics/addiction-recovery-helplines/