April 2019 marks the 32nd annual Alcohol Awareness Month, which was established by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in 1987. Each year, the observance carries a different theme, yet the purpose remains the same: to address alcoholism, raise public awareness of the illness, and educate individuals regarding prevention and treatment options. This year’s theme, “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow,” aims to draw attention to the issues surrounding alcohol use, alcoholism, and associated problems among affected youth and their families and communities.
The Importance of Raising Youth Awareness
Focusing on youth education is particularly important to ensure that the younger generation understands the perils of binge drinking and alcohol-related problems, which can result in unwanted consequences. Such efforts may also begin to curb future alcohol-related deaths. The CDC, for example, estimates that 88,000 individuals die each year from alcohol-related causes.
The Public Health Impact of Alcohol Misuse
Other organizations project that alcohol-related deaths will continue to increase annually. For example, both Trust for America’s Health and Providence St. Joseph Health’s Well-Being Trust have described alcoholism as an escalating crisis. In a recent report, these organizations quantified deaths from alcohol- and drug-related causes, as well as suicide. According to their 2017 report, alcohol-related deaths reached a 35-year high in 2016—representing a 55% increase from the death rate in 2000. Further, the report details data analysis and projections for annual deaths stemming from these three causes, and it also discusses healthcare costs associated with alcohol, drug, and suicide-risk diagnoses.
HBI’s Resources Can Help
For hospitals and health systems focused on improving the care of individuals with alcoholism and supporting their continued recovery, this HBI case study featuring Christiana Care Health System can help. The organization also shared its care management guideline for patients who may undergo alcohol withdrawal during their hospital stay. All hospitalized patients who are identified as a positive risk for withdrawal are offered supportive services, such as the ability to participate in Project Engage, which connects patients with a peer counselor in active recovery from alcohol addiction.
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