This article contains extensive discussion about alcohol, alcohol use disorder, and related topics. If you or someone you know lives with alcohol use disorder or might be, please contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357, available in English and Spanish. The SAMHSA National Helpline is free, and it is reachable 24/7.
It can be challenging to discuss alcohol use disorder and alcohol misuse. Not only are dangerous drinking behaviors, such as binge drinking, heavily normalized in our society, which can make it tough to detect signs that may indicate a problem, but the statistics on alcohol use disorder and other alcohol-related concerns have continued to rise throughout the years. With this in mind, it's crucial to raise awareness about alcohol use disorder and its signs, which is a significant part of what National Alcohol Screening Day aims to do. So, what exactly is Alcohol Screening Day, and how can this date improve the health of yourself and others? What might a typical alcohol use disorder screening entail, and what are the facts about alcohol use disorder? Let's take this chance to discuss the answers to these questions and how to find help if you need it.
What Is Alcohol Screening Day?
Alcohol Screening Day is a national event in the United States on April 6th of every year. The first Alcohol Screening Day took place in 1999. It has been a day dedicated to raising awareness for alcohol misuse and alcohol use disorder while encouraging individuals to get an alcohol screening and providing resources for finding and getting help if they need it. An alcohol screening is typically comprised of a short series of questions. These questions are meant to gauge your relationship with alcohol and help individuals identify alcohol use disorder. One of the most commonly used alcohol screening tools is the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). In honor of Alcohol Screening Day, you can take this test yourself, get screened by someone else at an event in your area, or information about how and where to take an alcohol screener so that others in your community can take a look at their behaviors and find support for concerns related to alcohol, too.
Facts On Alcohol Use Disorder And Alcohol Misuse
In addition to promoting screening tools, learning about alcohol use disorder is a way to observe Alcohol Screening Day and raise awareness throughout the year. Alcohol use disorder (which is sometimes abbreviated to AUD) and alcohol misuse aren't interchangeable terms, but they both deserve to be addressed. It's important to note that alcohol misuse is a risk factor for alcohol use disorder. Here's some of what we know:
Alcohol use disorder can seriously impact virtually every area of your life. Alcohol use disorder and alcohol misuse can affect your mental and physical health, family life and other interpersonal relationships, education, work, and more. If you live with alcohol use disorder, you aren't alone, and help is available.
What Does Treatment For Alcohol Use Disorder Look Like?
Various forms of treatment are available for alcohol use disorder, and the best course of treatment will vary from person to person. Treatment for alcohol use disorder may include detox, inpatient or outpatient care, peer support groups, and more. Medications* are sometimes, but not always, used in treatment. If a person has a comorbid or co-occurring condition, which is common, treatment may address these concerns as well. Common conditions alongside alcohol use disorder include depression, anxiety, eating disorders**, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Often, ongoing support from others is advantageous in recovery. If you or someone you know lives with alcohol use disorder, or if alcohol use disorder is suspected, one resource you can use to find care is the SAMHSA online treatment locator, available here: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.
*Make sure to consult with your doctor before stopping, starting, or changing medications.
**If you or someone you know lives with an eating disorder or displays signs of an eating disorder, please call or text the NEDA helpline at 1-800-931-2237.
How To Decrease Your Risk And Improve Your Health
To honor national Alcohol Screening Day and take care of yourself, what can you do outside of getting screened for alcohol use disorder? There are several ways to decrease your risk and improve your health. Here are some steps that can be taken:
Factors that can increase the risk of alcohol use disorder include but aren't limited to the presence of another mental health condition, a history of trauma, family history, low-income status, and being between the ages of 18-and 25. However, anyone can face alcohol use disorder.
Positive, supportive social connections are good for everyone. If you are sober or sober curious, or if you want to reduce your risk, one thing you can do is surround 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.
Warning signs of alcohol use disorder can include but are not limited to patterns of consuming more alcohol than intended, being unable to cut down or stop drinking despite the desire to do so, increased tolerance for alcohol, or needing to drink more than before getting the intended effect, continuing to drink despite the act of drinking causing interference with your family life or obligations, engaging in risky behaviors, such as operating heavy machinery or driving under the influence of alcohol, and withdrawals from alcohol.
One of the best ways to prevent alcohol use disorder is limiting or stopping drinking. One or two standard drinks per day maximum are the recommended limit, depending on who you are. A standard drinkcontains fourteen grams of alcohol, which may look like five ounces of wine or twelve ounces of a typical or average beer, for example. However, it's recommended that you don't start drinking if you do not drink already, and some people are advised to avoid alcohol altogether.
It's known that stress and traumatic events can increase the risk of alcohol use disorder and alcohol misuse. With this in mind, it's vital to use self-care, employ stress management, and establish healthy coping skills. This may look like paying attention to sleep hygiene and taking measures to get enough sleep, engaging in physical activity, eating regularly, spending time with people who make you feel good about yourself, and having go-to tools for coping during rough times, like breathing exercises, journaling, or reaching out to others.
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 who can help. Support groups, which you can often find for free, may also be useful. If you live with alcohol use disorder or have a family who does, you may be able to find a support group that meets remotely or face-to-face that is specific to this concern. If you're low-income, you may be able to find cost-effective or free mental health therapy, whether that's online or in a face-to-face setting.
Online therapy through BetterHelp is a safe, secure, and cost-effective way to get the support you need from your own home's privacy. Research shows that online therapy is just as beneficial for a wide range of concerns as in-person services are. When you get started with BetterHelp, you'll take a brief questionnaire. Then, we'll match you with a licensed mental health professional who meets your needs based on your answers. You can switch therapists or cancel services at any point in time. BetterHelp plans are often more affordable than traditional, in-person counseling services are without insurance, and financial aid options may be available for those who need it.
If you feel that online therapy might be a good fit for you, sign up for BetterHelp or learn more about the platform by looking at the therapist reviews and FAQ page on our website. No matter how you find a therapist to work with, you deserve to live the happiest, healthiest, and most fulfilling life possible.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Does Alcohol Screening Mean?
An alcohol screening is relatively non-invasive and brief. Typically, an alcohol screening is a brief questionnaire consisting of a series of questions: "How often do you consume a drink that contains alcohol?" "How many standard drinks do you consume when you drink?" and "Has someone in your life expressed concern related to drinking?" You can find a self-test online for free, or you can get screened by someone else. Often, there are public events that offer alcohol screenings to observe National Alcohol Screening Day.
Why Is Alcohol Screening Important?
Alcohol screening is important because it can lead to the detection of alcohol use disorder (AUD) and other concerns related to alcohol, like alcohol misuse. Detection of concerns such as AUD can save lives and prevent the long-term effects of heavy alcohol consumption.
What Are Signs That Your Liver Is Struggling?
Signs that your liver health is negatively impacted can include but aren't limited to jaundice, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and swelling, confusion, difficulty with memory, fatigue, and itchy skin. Make an appointment to see your doctor if you notice any physical or mental health-related symptoms that raise concern, as they could be serious.