Alcohol is a psychoactive substance with dependence-producing properties. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains “ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is an intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor. Alcohol is produced by the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches.” It is a central nervous system depressant, that works by slowing down vital functions in one’s body. Alcohol consumption for individuals over the age of twenty-one was legalized in America in the 1930s. Alcohol is currently recognized as the most used substance by youth and adults in the United States. Data from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) demonstrated that 85.6% of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime; 69.5% reported that they drank in the past year; 54.9% reported that they drank in the past month.
The harmful use of alcohol, as emphasized by the World Health Organization (WHO), “causes a high burden of disease and has significant social and economic consequences.” Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic brain disorder. It is a medical condition that according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is characterized by “an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.” Nearly 13.9% of people in the United States will meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder in their lifetimes.
The economic burden to accommodate alcoholism and alcohol misuse in America is immense, as it is estimated to cost society $249 billion each year in health care costs ($28 billion), lost workplace productivity ($179 billion), collisions ($13 billion), and criminal justice costs ($25 billion). Alcohol consumption is a known risk factor in many chronic diseases and conditions (e.g., certain cancers, psychiatric disorders, cardiovascular diseases, digestive disorders, etc.). For example, approximately 50% of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx in America are associated with heavy drinking. Further, according to a study in Lancet Oncology, at least 4% of the world’s newly diagnosed cases of esophageal, mouth, larynx, colon, rectum, liver, and breast cancers in 2020, can be attributed to alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol use was responsible for more than 140,000 deaths in the United States each year during 2015–2019, which is equal to more than 380 deaths per day. Alcohol is the third-leading preventable cause of death in America.
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Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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