DPH Joins National Partners to Increase Alcoholism Awareness in Georgia

April 6, 2015

April is Alcoholism Awareness Month and it marks the 29th year of improving and saving lives through prevention, treatment and recovery for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). NCADD uses this time to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.

This year, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) joins NCADD in highlighting the importance of addressing underage drinking – a problem that has devastated way too many young lives because of irresponsible and underage drinking.

For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction” is this year’s theme which is aimed at educating the public about treatment and prevention of alcoholism. To support this observance, DPH reminds the public about why excessive alcohol consumption is a safety and lifelong health issue for adults and youth.

Nearly 88,000 people died from alcohol-related causes annually, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States, according to NCADD and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Furthermore, excessive drinking was responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults 20 to 64 years.

“When reviewing findings from DPH’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), we see an increasing need to educate youth on the potential life-threatening health impacts of drinking alcohol, especially when it is consumed in excess,” said A. Rana Bayakly, director of DPH’s Chronic Disease, Healthy Behaviors and Injury Epidemiology Section. “Within 30 days of taking the YRBS, 28 percent of Georgia’s high school students had at least one drink of alcohol and 13 percent had five or more drinks within a couple of hours.”

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) is working to combat underage drinking through a statewide underage drinking prevention campaign that raises awareness about alcohol consumption and substance abuse among Georgia’s youth.

Regardless of the age the person drinking or how they access alcohol, excessive drinking can cause significant health problems as stated in CDC data.

Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than 21. This behavior is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the United States and has been associated with cirrhosis of the liver, high blood pressure, stroke and increased risk for motor vehicle accidents, injuries, violence and suicide.

CDC also found that adult males were significantly more likely than females to engage in binge drinking. For women, binge drinking includes four or more drinks during a single occasion. For men, binge drinking includes five or more drinks in a single occasion.  When describing a heavy drinker, these numbers double for women to eight or more drinks. For men, heaving drinking constitutes 15 or more drinks.

DPH encourages responsible alcohol consumption and to follow Dietary Guidelines for Americans for moderate drinking. That means one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.

It is also important for females of childbearing years not to drink if they are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. These guidelines can reduce the risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight and other health consequences for both the mother and baby.

Visit the CDC online to learn more about alcohol use and its impact on your health. For more information about alcohol consumption rates in Georgia, visit DPH’s YRBS Alcohol Use Surveillance website.

To learn how you can help DBHDD reduce underage drinking in your community, view DBHDD’s Substance Abuse Prevention website for more information and resources.

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