How National Alcohol Screening Day can improve your health and well-being

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated March 7, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article on Alcohol Screening Day might mention substance use-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use, contact  SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Support is available 24/7. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

It can be challenging to discuss alcohol use disorders and alcohol drinking problems. Risky drinking behaviors, such as binge drinking, are commonly normalized in society, which can make it challenging to detect signs of a mental illness. Raising awareness can be crucial, which is a significant part of what National Alcohol Screening Day aims to do. 

Understanding the goals can help you connect with resources, reduce stigma against substance use disorders, and learn more about how to get support and find treatment options for alcoholism and drug dependence if you're struggling. You're not alone, and many resources are available.

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Are you worried about your behaviors surrounding alcohol?
What is National Alcohol Screening Day?

It is a national event that takes place in the United States on April 6th of every year. The first instance took place in 1999 supported by national institutes like the National Council. During this time, individuals are encouraged to get an alcohol screening test and are often provided resources for finding and receiving support if a health professional expresses concern and it resonates with their experience. 

Facts on AUD and binge drinking

In addition to promoting screening tools, learning about alcohol use disorder is only one way to observe National Alcohol Screening Day and raise awareness throughout the year. Alcohol use disorder (sometimes abbreviated to AUD) and alcohol misuse aren't interchangeable terms, but they can both be considered. 

Another way to celebrate is by reading recent statistics about alcohol use, including the following:

  • In 2019, five million individuals residing in the United States above 12 were living with alcohol use disorder, with 7.2% reaching out for treatment. That same year, 25.8% of those 18 and older experienced alcohol problems such as binge drinking, which is a pattern of drinking that raises an individual's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or higher.
  • Since 2020, excessive drinking has increased by 21% in the United States. Experts suggest this increase can lead to more alcohol-related deaths, including liver cancer and liver failure.
  • Those who experience alcohol use disorder face a heightened risk of various health concerns, including liver disease, heart disease, stomach bleeding, other GI issues, stroke, depression, early mortality, and cancer.

AUD can have harmful effects for many areas of your life. AUD and alcohol misuse can affect your mental and physical health, family life and other interpersonal relationships, educational pursuits for college students, professional life, and more. If you live with AUD or experience another type of substance abuse, you aren't alone; support is available.

What does treatment look like?

Various forms of treatment are available for AUD, and the most effective course of treatment can vary from person to person. Treatment may include detox, inpatient or outpatient care, peer support groups, and more. Treatment facilities can support you throughout these processes. Medications are sometimes used in treatment. However, consult a doctor before considering, starting, or stopping medications. 

If a person has a comorbid or co-occurring condition, which is common, treatment may address these concerns as well. Common conditions alongside AUD include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Often, ongoing support from others can be advantageous in recovery. Also, if you are struggling with alcoholism and PTSD from acts of service, military installations can offer their both their experience and support.

Make positive and supportive social connections

Positive, supportive social connections can be beneficial for anyone. If you are curious about becoming sober or want to reduce your risk, consider surrounding yourself with people who don't connect via drinking. You may be able to find these individuals through local meetups and organizations, support groups, and online spaces.

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Know the warning signs of alcohol use disorder

Warning signs can include the following: 

  • Heavy drinking patterns of consuming more than intended
  • Struggling to cut down or stop drinking despite the desire to do so 
  • An increased tolerance for alcohol
  • Frequently drinking six or more drinks 

You might find that you need to drink more than before to get the same intended effect after drinking more often. Additionally, you may continue to drink despite the behavior causing interference with your family life or professional obligations. 

Care of your well-being

Stress and traumatic events can increase the risk of alcohol use disorder and alcohol misuse. With this in mind, it may be vital to use self-care, employ stress management, and establish healthy coping skills when dealing with life's stressors.

Self-care can look like paying attention to sleep hygiene, getting enough sleep, engaging in physical activity, eating regularly, and spending time with people who make you feel optimistic. It could also mean having go-to tools for coping during rough times, like breathing exercises, journaling, or reaching out to others.

Find professional support

If you notice symptoms of a mental health condition, are experiencing ongoing stress, face tension in interpersonal relationships, or otherwise need someone to talk to, consider speaking with a therapist or counselor.

Support groups, which you can often find for free, may also be helpful. If you're low-income, you may be able to find cost-effective mental health therapy, whether that's online or in a face-to-face setting. Public health organizations, such as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, provide information to help you seek alcohol abuse treatment. AUD and other mental health concerns can often be managed with practical tools and professional support.

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Are you worried about your behaviors surrounding alcohol?

Counseling options for alcoholism and drug dependence

If you're concerned about your habits with substances such as alcohol, consider confiding in a professional. Online counseling platforms like BetterHelp can connect you with licensed therapists experienced in various areas, including substance use and addiction. 

Opening up to the people in your life about your alcohol consumption can be difficult and uncomfortable. When you reach out to someone online, you can get discreet support and choose between phone, video, or chat sessions with your therapist. In addition, you can change your therapist at any time if you don't match with your first option. Hundreds of mental health professionals are available on the platform to offer treatment.

Research has shown the effectiveness of online therapy in treating a wide range of mental health concerns. One study found that therapist-guided e-therapy successfully curbed harmful habits related to alcohol consumption, cannabis use, and gambling addiction. Studies like these showcase how online therapy, which is often more cost-effective, can be as effective as face-to-face therapy for most people. 

Takeaway

National Alcohol Screening Day provides ample opportunity for you or a loved one to take a screening test to assess your level of dependence on substances like alcohol. If you discover that you're struggling with a concern such as dependence or a substance use disorder, help is available. 

You can reach out for support through an online counseling platform or to a therapist in your area. Many therapists are trained in addiction and substance misuse and can give you tools that may help you move past unhelpful habits.

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