April is Alcohol Awareness Month. The campaign—which aims to educate the public about the dangers of alcohol misuse—was created in 1987 by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. In the United States, alcohol is the third-leading cause of preventable death.  Worldwide, it is responsible for 3 million deaths per year.
What Are the Dangers of Alcohol?
Alcohol is so integrated into our society that we rarely think of it as a drug. But it is one, and it can cause more damage than some of the narcotics we think of as being especially dangerous.
One study rated the harm caused by different drugs to both the individual and society. Alcohol was rated as the overall most harmful drug when considering the effects on the community, the family, personal health, and a number of other factors. It scored higher than crack and heroin.
There are countless articles about the benefits of a glass of wine, but in reality, alcohol causes much more harm to health than not. It affects just about every system in the body. We’ve listed some of the many adverse health effects of alcohol misuse (and the health benefits of recovery from alcohol) here.
Alcohol Use Among College Students
When the Alcohol Awareness Month campaign started, it aimed to educate college students. This is important, because many people start drinking in high school or college. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), youth transitioning to adulthood (about ages 18-25) have some of the highest rates of substance misuse.
In a national survey, 33% of college students reported binge drinking in the past month. Some drank at least twice the amount that is considered binge drinking. Alcohol misuse on campuses can lead to poor academic performance, car accidents, alcohol poisoning, and on and on. 97,000 students aged 18-24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault—and those are just the cases that are reported.
Alcohol and the Cycle of Anxiety
People often turn to alcohol to cope with anxiety because of its temporary sedative effects. Up to half of people in treatment for alcohol use disorder meet criteria for an anxiety disorder. However, whenever alcohol wears off, anxiety spikes.
When people chronically misuse alcohol, their anxiety increases; many people then go through a cycle of drinking to calm themselves, only to worsen the anxiety. The last few years of my drinking, I was having panic attacks almost every day.
In recovery from alcohol use disorder, people need tools to cope with anxiety without picking up a bottle. They also need social support and connection. This is true for recovery from any addiction—but alcohol is so a part of socializing in our society that people who quit drinking need to know they can have fun and feel connected sober.
If you are struggling with an alcohol use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. Amatus Recovery Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build a happy and fulfilling life without alcohol. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.