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April is Alcohol Awareness Month. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and many other agencies try to increase their efforts to reach people who may not fully appreciate the dangers of unhealthy alcohol consumption. Started in April 1987, the main target of this program was originally college-aged students who might be drinking too much as part of their newfound freedom. It has since become a national movement to draw more attention to the causes and effects of alcoholism as well as how to help families and communities deal with drinking problems.
If you're a light to moderate drinker and you're healthy, you can probably drink alcohol as long as you do so responsibly. Some people claim possible health benefits of consuming small amounts of alcohol. These may include reducing the risk of developing heart disease, ischemic stroke, and possibly even diabetes. The social and psychological benefits of alcohol also can't be ignored.
As with most things, too much alcohol can certainly be a very bad thing. Heavy drinking can damage the liver and heart, harm an unborn child, increase the chances of developing some cancers, contribute to depression and violence, and interfere with relationships. Alcohol is a toxic and addictive drug.
Many Americans die because of alcohol abuse and alcoholism, and many more are admitted into hospitals, psychiatric facilities, jails, and prison. Alcohol places people at risk for things like divorce, unemployment, bankruptcy, and physical and emotional problems such as depression. Excessive alcohol use is known to kill about 88,000 people in the United States each year, but a CDC study suggests it is also a drain on the American economy. Underage drinking, binge drinking, alcoholism, and drunk driving impact so many lives in so many horrible ways.
As long as you won’t be getting behind the wheel, it’s probably fine to enjoy that after-work cocktail or a few beers at the fishing camp. But if you or someone you know has trouble keeping the alcohol intake at a healthy level, it’s time to get help. Smart Start of Louisiana offers tools to help with voluntary and mandated alcohol monitoring. We are here to help.
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