First, Internal Awareness

By: Aprill Murphy

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. As a mental health provider and alcohol and drug counselor, I ask but one thing: we do just this: gain awareness. And NO, I am not necessarily talking about facts and statistics about how many youths are drinking alcohol or how many deaths are alcohol-related. I am talking about internal awareness: Are you aware of how much you drink in a day, week, month, or year? What are the reasons you drink? Has anyone identified this as being problematic? Do you have a loved one struggling with excessive usage? Are you motivated to change anything about your alcohol usage? How does your usage impact your health, mental well-being, relationships, and work production?

We live in an area where alcohol usage and even misusage are normalized. Subtle changes can make a significant impact individually, within family units, and as a community. Here are some more simple questions to bring aspects of alcohol consumption to your awareness. Do you keep alcohol in your house? How many community events exist without the consumption or service of alcohol? Is alcohol consumed at birthday parties, holidays, and other family events? When alcohol is served, are there non-alcoholic options available? Is there an AA or Al-anon meeting available in your community? Do you know what AA or Al-Anon is? Do you know how to help a loved one struggling with alcoholism? Again, these are meant to bring awareness, not judgment. This is not an exhaustive list, merely food for thought.

Once we begin thinking, then maybe we can have more discussions and, ultimately, prevention. If you or a loved one are concerned alcohol maybe a problem, call the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) hotline at 1-800-622-HELP (4357) or make an appointment to visit your healthcare provider.