Alcohol Awareness Month was established in 1987. Every April, the campaign formerly sponsored by the National Council for Alcoholism and Drug Dependence aims to raise awareness for communities and help understand the causes of alcohol misuse and treatments available for one of the biggest health issues in America. Alcohol Awareness Month also aims to reduce the social stigma associated with alcohol use disorder (AUD, also referred to as alcoholism) and to educate people on how the disease can be addressed, offering help and advice for families as well as direct engagement with those afflicted with alcohol addiction. We have strong reasons to support alcohol awareness this year. There are clear indications that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely exacerbated America’s substance misuse crisis. Drug overdose deaths are believed to have exceeded 100,000 in 2021 for the first time in a 12-month period and alcohol-related fatalities have increased dramatically as well. Elevated drinking rates during the pandemic—from binge drinking to increased social acceptance of drinking—reportedly have led to a large increase in alcohol-related deaths in 2020. “There was a 25 percent increase, from nearly 79,000 in 2019 to more than 99,000 alcohol-related deaths documented in 2020, according to a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That compares with an annual average increase of 3.6 percent between 1999 and 2019,” reported Kate Carey-Trull for Hartford HealthCare in March. “Alcohol is a familiar and culturally acceptable source of relief from stress, anxiety, and even boredom,” said Dr. J. Craig Allen, Medical Director of Rushford, part of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network. “However, subjective symptom improvement from an addictive substance is often short-lived with the solution becoming a problem of its own. Risky use of alcohol can lead to full-blown depressive, anxiety, and substance use disorders.”The study found that “rates increased for all age groups, with the largest increases occurring for people aged 35 to 44 years (from 22.9 to 32.0 per 100 000 [39.7 percent]) and 25 to 34 years (from 11.8 to 16.1 per 100 000 [37.0 percent]).” “Deaths involving alcohol reflect hidden tolls of the pandemic,” wrote study authors White, Castle, Powell, et al. “Increased drinking to cope with pandemic-related stressors, shifting alcohol policies, and disrupted treatment access are all possible contributing factors. Whether alcohol-related deaths will decline as the pandemic wanes and whether policy changes could help reduce such deaths, warrants consideration.”In his landmark report on addiction, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy stated that “one in ten deaths among working adults are due to alcohol misuse” and that “alcohol misuse and alcohol use disorders alone cost the United States approximately $249 billion in lost productivity, health care expenses, law enforcement, and other criminal justice costs.”Alcohol remains the most widely used addictive substance in America. In most cases, it can be legally obtained and is more likely to harm people than all illegal drugs combined. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 15 million people ages 12 and older had AUD. This number includes 9 million men and 5.5 million women. An estimated 414,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 had AUD. AUD is a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social or health consequences. It is frequently driven by a desire to numb emotional pain, extreme stress, or trauma. It is not the result of moral turpitude or lack of willpower.Considered a psychiatric disorder, AUD can be mild, moderate, or severe. Lasting changes in the brain caused by the disease perpetuate alcohol misuse and make individuals vulnerable to relapse. The good news is that no matter how severe the problem may seem, evidence-based treatment with behavioral therapies, mutual-support groups, and/or medications can help people with AUD achieve and maintain recovery.Professionals such as physicians, lawyers, airline pilots, and others are often exposed to long hours at work and stressful situations. Successful professionals can live lives of unbalance, sacrificing their families and themselves while prioritizing work above all. Their intense work environment may lead to alcohol and drug misuse or intimacy issues. Effective treatment must address all issues related to the substance or behavioral addiction. Drugs and alcohol are primarily addictive in the context of setting, dose, and numerous other personal, biological, and cultural variables. Addiction is much more complicated than drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs. The Valiant Living Professionals Program for Men strives to restore lives from addictions, intimacy disorders, and their impact on all aspects of life. Our excellent staff utilizes modern, evidence-based therapy techniques to offer the highest quality care. We know that professional clients need to balance a deep search for recovery with a work-life that demands attention. Our Professionals Program is designed to do just that, with a number of therapeutic options for men with challenging careers and busy lifestyles. If you or a loved one has turned to drugs or alcohol to keep up at work and manage a high degree of daily stress, don’t hesitate to reach out for help by calling us today at 303-816-3571.