January 22, 2021 by John Fernandez
April Is Alcohol Awareness Month
Many would argue that alcohol is woven into the fabric of American life; most restaurants serve beer and wine, and a great many also serve liquor. For most people, the use of alcohol in moderation is not a problem. However, alcohol is a real problem for a significant number of people in the United States.
In 2014, 17 million adults, aged 18 and older (7.2 percent of the population), had a diagnosed “alcohol use disorder (AUD),” according to the National Institutes of Health. For many people, this chronic, progressive and potentially fatal disorder can lead to dramatic consequences that can hurt one’s physical health as well as one’s family, social and work life.
Nearly 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from an alcohol-related cause in the U.S. annually, making it the fourth-leading preventable cause of death in the United States, according to federal statistics. Problematic alcohol use also raises one’s risk for other medical conditions, including heart problems, kidney and liver disorders, even obesity and diabetes.
Alcohol also contributes to nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities. In 2014 alone, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities), according to the National Institute on Alcohol and Abuse and Alcoholism.
Hope and Health
While most families have been affected in one way or another by the overuse of alcohol, there is hope. Today, more than ever, people with alcohol use disorders are receiving world-class, evidence-based treatment. More physicians are learning how to spot alcohol problems with their patients early on, using screening tools in private offices and in primary care centers.
Hospitals and healthcare systems, like Baptist Health South Florida, are also training more social workers, care coordinators, nurses and other allied health professionals to intervene in the care of patients and their families with education, understanding, kindness and compassion. With the stigma that often accompanies alcohol and other drug problems, a “love-first” approach is the means by which – and often the only way, say, compared to the antiquated “tough love” approach – someone can get real help for their alcohol problem.
For those who do need treatment, advances in the field of Addiction Medicine – like the therapeutic techniques used at South Miami Hospital’s Addiction Treatment & Recovery Center, a fixture in the South Florida community for 40 years – mean that men and women suffering from an alcohol use disorder can get a proper evaluation, receive the right diagnosis for their condition and get on a path to recovery. The right combination of individual counseling, group therapies, 12-step support, proper diet and nutrition and physical fitness are essential ingredients in the proper care of someone with an alcohol problem.
Alcohol is a legal substance and most people can consume it without any negative consequences. But, if you think that you or someone you know might have a challenge with alcohol, or if you’d like to get more information on how we can help, contact the South Miami Hospital Addiction Treatment & Recovery Center – anytime, 24/7 – at 786-662-8118 or 1-800-YES-HOPE.
About the Author
David Vittoria is assistant vice president of the South Miami Hospital Addiction Treatment & Recovery Center.