Over 17 million U.S. residents have serious alcohol issues, and more than 140,000 Americans die from excessive alcohol use each year, according to the CDC. Unchecked alcohol consumption causes serious illnesses, chronic disease, drunk driving fatalities, and broken families.
Alcohol is different than other harmful substances. It is legal, for starters. Social events always come with a bar attached and drinking is celebrated in our culture as the best way to take off the sting of the rigors of daily life.
As much as we know about the dangers of too much alcohol, it stays in our subconscious and is not called out for what it really is. Hard drug s are bad, but alcohol is a necessary evil. Or so we convince ourselves to think.
And so, the American people continue to drink. Too often, we don’t recognize the damage it is causing, and too often, it ends in tragedy.
Like everything else, solving a problem only starts with recognizing that we have one. And so, Alcohol Awareness Month was born.
April as Alcohol Awareness Month: How it started.
A woman named Marty Mann was born in 1904 and died in 1980. In between she accomplished more for alcohol awareness than perhaps anyone in the last century. She worked tirelessly to shed the stigma and ignorance associated with alcoholism and pioneered the now overwhelmingly accepted idea that it is a disease rather than a personal failing. In the 1950’s, Edward R. Murrow, the famed war journalist who rose to the top of CBS News included Marty in his top 10 list of greatest living Americans. It was well-deserved.
Believed to be the first woman to complete the 12-step program, Marty remained sober until the end of her life, a period of over 40 years, and became known as the First Lady of Alcoholics Anonymous. Her long list of achievements in the field of alcoholism recovery included the installation of April as National Alcohol Awareness Month. First established and sponsored by her advocacy organization, the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD), in 1987, Alcohol Awareness Month continues to make its mark on the American consciousness, over 35 years later.
What is Alcohol Awareness Month
The goals of Alcohol Awareness Month have always been pretty simple. It strove to raise awareness levels of the dangers of alcohol, and at the same time educate the public about how alcoholism looks in real life and how to properly address and treat it. Knowing more about alcohol and talking openly about how it affects us removes the stigma that is a barrier to getting the help that so many among us desperately need.
One of the more well-known initiatives of AAM is the Alcohol-Free Weekend. The NCADD encouraged the nation to choose a weekend in April of their choice, and for those 72 hours to completely abstain from consuming alcohol. It allows people a window into enjoying a full weekend sober and invites us all to understand the beautiful possibility of having fun while being stone cold sober.
Who can be a part of Alcohol Awareness Month?
It takes a village, and every region, community organization, workplace, school, and every single person can do their part to bring this mission to the forefront of the country’s focus.
At dinner, families can talk about what alcohol does to us. Teachers can encourage open classroom forums where students share their experiences with alcohol or how the alcoholism of a loved one affected their families. Offices can hold sober friendly parties where alcohol is eschewed, and clear-minded socializing is celebrated. Community leaders can organize programs broadcasting the message of Alcohol Awareness Month, and neighborhoods join forces at citywide events.
It doesn’t have to be on a grand scale. Making a difference hinges on the grassroots. Every person you touch may touch another, and eventually, the wins pile up.
Change starts with us and change starts now.
This April, do your part for Alcohol Awareness Month.
Make a difference in your community and in your country.
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