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Alcohol Awareness Critical as Drinking Deaths Increase

Thursday, April 04, 2024
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April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol awareness seems to be falling short. Despite mounting evidence underscoring the serious health toll alcohol takes on the body and brain, alcohol-related deaths are on the rise.

During Alcohol Awareness Month, NewBridge Services is sharing information and advice to make controlling your drinking a priority. When it comes to alcohol consumption, “less is better and none is best,” said NewBridge Services Director of Addiction Services Derk Replogle. “Alcohol’s seriously harmful effects are often ignored to the detriment of those who imbibe,” Replogle said.

Alcohol related deaths per year in the U.S. jumped 29% over five years, according to a recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The results showed 178,000 people died from caused fully attributable to alcohol in both 2020 and 2021, compared with 138,000 in 2016 and 2017. 

Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancers, liver disease, cardiovascular disease and dementia.The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reported that 1 in 12 adults suffers from alcohol dependence or abuse, and millions of others engage in binge drinking that can lead to alcohol problems.

National survey results showed a drop in drinking among teens thanks to alcohol education, but imbibing by women, especially among 30- to 45-year-olds, has increased, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. NIAAA researchers in 2023 reported deaths in 2021 attributable to alcohol were up nearly 10% over 2020. Alcohol-related deaths increased 25.5% between 2019 to 2020.

Controlling Alcohol Consumption

 Not everyone who drinks alcohol has a problem. If you’re concerned about how much you’re drinking, these are first steps you can take:

  • Write a list of the benefits of cutting back on drinking
  • Set a limit on how much you will drink and track your consumption
  • Have several alcohol-free days each week
  • Enjoy activities that don’t involve alcohol
  • Don’t keep alcohol on hand
  • Ask for help if you’re struggling

“When you want to stop drinking and have made the decision to stop drinking, but are still drinking, it’s time for treatment,” Replogle said. “The first step is often is the hardest, and that’s asking for help.”

Treatment needs to be tailored to the individual to be successful, and will likely involve a combination of approaches, Replogle said.

Outpatient Treatment

 

Outpatient treatment is most appropriate for people who have a stable home environment and are willing and able to attend counseling sessions. NewBridge Services provides this type of treatment, with clients attending one-on-one and/or group sessions two to three hours a week, Replogle said. NewBridge uses evidence-based practices to help clients alter harmful behaviors and prevent relapse. Individuals can continue working and living at home. Medication and support groups may be part of outpatient treatment.

Intensive Outpatient

An intensive outpatient program is geared for people who need more supervision in their recovery. It provides at least nine hours of service a week, usually broken into three-hour sessions. It can be a stepping stone from inpatient treatment to outpatient care.

Residential Treatment

Residential treatment is suitable for individuals who face a host of drinking triggers at home and need a more structured living environment. Providing 24-hour supervision, residential treatment is an option for those who were not successful in outpatient programs. People in short-term facilities typically stay for one to three months. Long-term residential treatment is more intense, with residents enrolled for up to a year. In addition to addiction treatment, they learn skills to manage day-to-day life and participate successfully in their community.

About a third of people who have a mental illness also have a substance abuse problem, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Among people living with a severe mental illness, the rate of co-occurring disorders is 50%. Addressing co-occurring mental health issues alongside addiction is paramount, Replogle said.

Innovative approaches such as Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) are gaining traction in addressing alcohol abuse. Medications like Naltrexone and Disulfiram, in conjunction with evidence-based therapies, offer promising avenues for reducing alcohol consumption and preventing relapse, he said. NewBridge last year received state approval to provide MAT for clients with substance use disorder and those with co-occurring disorders.

Regardless of the chosen treatment path, ongoing support and follow-up care are essential to sustaining recovery. Peer support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous provide invaluable resources and encouragement for individuals navigating the journey to sobriety.

“People can and do recover from addiction,” Replogle said. To schedule a comprehensive evaluation with NewBridge, call (973) 316-9333.

© 2024 Newbridge Services. E-mail And Voicemail Cannot Replace Counseling.