Alcohol Awareness Month: History and Importance

April 2, 2024

Every year, activities to mark Alcohol Awareness Month happen in April. This period is a crucial time to raise awareness about the economic, social, and health consequences of alcohol abuse. For that matter, alcohol abuse can significantly impact your mental health. So, let’s talk about Alcohol Awareness Month and how it can help you find your path to healing.

Origins of Alcohol Awareness Month

Since 1987, the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) has been educating the public on the dangers of alcohol abuse. The primary goal of this initiative was to combat the widespread effects of alcohol on families, individuals, and communities.

But other reasons for establishing Alcohol Awareness Month include:

  • Increasing awareness about the causes of alcoholism
  • Reducing stigma
  • Encouraging people to focus on alcohol-related issues

NCADD’s founder, Marty Mann, was among the first to bring alcoholism to public attention in 1944. According to her contemporaries, she was driven by the mission to educate the general public about alcoholism as a treatable disease—and not a moral failing. Mann also stood up to advocate for those suffering in silence.

A man face down on a table, with an empty bottle of alcohol; potentially a sign that he hasn't followed the Alcohol Awareness Month guidelines
Alcohol Awareness Month was established to combat the effects of alcohol abuse

In the years after Marty Mann, Alcohol Awareness Month has evolved in impact and scope. Today, this month has broadened to encompass a wide range of topics related to alcohol use, such as:

  • Underage drinking
  • Binge drinking
  • Societal impacts of alcohol use

Proponents of safe alcohol use have put forth Alcohol Awareness Month as a catalyst for advocacy and policy change. As a result, they received funding for alcoholism research, prevention initiatives, and assistance programs for those who abuse alcohol. Likewise, some of the research has also focused on co-occurring mental health disorders and alcohol abuse.

In recent years, experts in mental health in Arkansas have underscored the need for integrated treatment options that address alcohol dependency and underlying mental health conditions.

We turn to that next.

The Impact of Alcohol on Mental Health

Alcohol abuse has a complex relationship with mental health. To that effect, excessive alcohol use exacerbates mental health issues such as:

  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety

For illustration, alcohol is a depressant that can mask stress and relax the user. Yet, if you use it for a long period of time, alcohol can affect your brain chemistry. As a result, it leads to an increase in negative emotions and a decrease in the brain’s ability to regulate anxiety and stress naturally.

Similarly, individuals who suffer from mental health issues sometimes turn to alcohol as a way to self-medicate. Yes, they can alleviate symptoms temporarily. But, in the long haul, they adversely affect their mental health. Thereby, you create a vicious cycle where alcohol misuse worsens mental health conditions over time, leading to increased dependency.

Equally worrying, alcohol can alter your mood, including serotonin and dopamine levels (the feel-good hormones). This results in feelings of depression and anxiety as soon as the effects of alcohol wear off. Likewise, excessive alcohol use can interfere with your ability to cope with trauma, triggering PTSD symptoms or making them more severe.

Next, let’s see how to address the stigma around mental health illnesses and alcohol addiction.

Addressing Stigma Around Mental Health and Alcoholism

Alcohol Awareness Month helps reduce the stigma around alcohol addiction and mental health issues. Observing April in this way promotes education and encourages a compassionate view of these conditions.

Alcohol Awareness Month advocates for open conversations about alcohol use and how it affects mental health. As a result, shame and isolation can be reduced for those struggling with alcohol abuse and mental health illness.

Two men sitting and discussing Alcohol Awareness Month
Conversation is one of the best ways to avoid stigma

Fear of judgment often prevents many people from seeking support from mental health services in Arkansas. On the other side, Alcohol Awareness Month is working to change public perceptions and foster a supportive environment.

To that end, April serves to break down barriers to recovery and promote a message of resilience and hope by:

  • Providing resources
  • Highlighting success stories
  • Emphasizing the availability of treatment

As a side-effect, this campaign can humanize those who suffer from excessive alcohol use, not just offer them support.

Arkansas Mental Health Services for Conditions Linked to Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. People with mental health challenges often run against a wall when they decide to seek help. That’s why it’s critical to offer sufficient healthcare access to help them proactively manage their issues.

For example, Arkansas has consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to supporting residents who deal with mental health challenges and alcohol abuse. To that end, we recommend seeking help for depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue at a center for mental health in Fayetteville AR.

Here’s what that looks like in practice.

Depression Treatment

Depression affects almost 300 million people on Earth, and we in the US aren’t spared.

If you or your loved one are battling this illness, depression treatment in Fayetteville AR offers a holistic approach that includes:

Time Wellness Arkansas is here to offer support and guidance. We tailor our treatment approaches to meet your specific needs. Also, we are well-versed in helping groups that are particularly vulnerable to depression, like the elderly, marginalized communities, and people with chronic illnesses.

Anxiety Treatment

Approximately 5% of US adults experience general “anxiety disorder at some time in their lives,” according to research.

A woman sitting on the floor, worried about her anxiety
Alcohol can bolster anxiety and turn it into a full-blown mental health crisis

Time Wellness Arkansas offers a wide range of services to help you deal with your anxiety disorder, including:

  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Biosound therapy
  • FLOAT tank therapy

So, reach out to us and get anxiety treatment in Fayetteville AR! We can help you manage your condition successfully.

PTSD Treatment

If you’ve engaged in military combat, suffered from violent assaults, or lost a loved one, you may be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

To help you out on your path to getting better, Time Wellness Arkansas offers:

  • Yoga and mindfulness therapy
  • Biofeedback therapy
  • Red light therapy

With these and other accessible treatment options, you will get the right support. Seek PTSD treatment in Fayetteville Arkansas today to relieve your symptoms!

Get Mental Health Support This Alcohol Awareness Month

As you navigate the ups and downs of life, it’s crucial that you periodically reflect on your behaviors and habits—not just during Alcohol Awareness Month.

Ask yourself: Do I excessively consume alcohol?

If so, know that seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness but a sign of strength and self-awareness.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol-related issues, Arkansas has a wealth of resources and support available.

 

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8214217/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10241552/
  3. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/generalized-anxiety-disorder