You may not know who is in recovery in your community – but you see them or know them as contributing to our businesses, connecting with their families, and giving back to the community – yet they are also recovering from alcoholism – whether from their own addiction or from the effects of a loved one’s drinking.
They have struggled with their own personal nightmares, but they have set their feet solidly on a path toward hope. For those still struggling, we need to take action now to help them find help for today, hope for tomorrow.
Every April, people across America celebrate Alcohol Awareness Month, an initiative founded and sponsored by NCADD. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.”
Locally, NCADD-NJ is celebrating Alcohol Awareness Month at the Parsippany Police Athletic League on Monday, April 22 by hosting a speaker program with an open dialogue between parents, young people, and community leaders on alcohol and addiction. Elected officials will also participate and Parsippany Mayor Barberio will present a proclamation for April, Alcohol Awareness Month.
Alcoholism does not discriminate — it affects people of all ages, ethnicities, genders, geographic regions, and socioeconomic levels. And too many people are still unaware that alcoholism is a disease that can be treated, just like we treat other health disorders such as diabetes and hypertension.
As someone who was exposed to recovery at 15 when my parents addressed family alcoholism, I have seen firsthand the benefits of self-help meetings. For the past almost 30 years, my family continues in recovery. My father for his sobriety, and my mother and I as affected family members. In my community, I served as the immediate past chair of VMAC (Verona Municipal Alliance Committee) and am currently an NCADD Advocacy Leader, helping raise awareness and prevention around alcohol and drug dependence.
Individuals who embrace recovery achieve improved mental and physical health, as well as stronger relationships and a sense of self-worth.
“Alcohol is a drug — a powerful, mood-altering drug – and alcoholism is a chronic disease, from which people can and do recover,” says David E. Lewis, M.D., Chairperson of the Medical-Scientific Committee of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD).
“Over the past two decades, scientific research has revolutionized our understanding of how alcohol and drugs affect the body and the brain. We now know that prolonged, repeated alcohol and drug use can result in fundamental, long-lasting changes in the body including brain structure and functioning.”
Alcoholism and alcohol-related problems touch all Americans, directly or indirectly, as our nation’s number one public health problem. Currently, nearly 14 million Americans — 1 in every 13 adults — abuse alcohol or are alcoholic. Several million more adults engage in risky drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems. In addition, approximately 53 percent of men and women in the United States report that one or more of their close relatives have a drinking problem. And, in purely economic terms, alcohol-use problems cost society more than $224 billion per year due to lost productivity, health care costs, business and criminal justice costs (the equivalent of $746 for every man, woman and child in the United States).
“The good news is that we are making progress,” says Robert J. Lindsey, President/CEO of NCADD. “It is now estimated that more than 20 million individuals and family members are living lives in recovery. These individuals have achieved healthy lifestyles, both physically and emotionally, and contribute in positive ways to their communities. As a society, we’ve got to do a far better job of increasing awareness and understanding among the public and educate our young people that underage alcohol use is extremely risky behavior,” says Lindsey, “that they may be endangering not only their own lives, but the lives of friends, neighbors, and loved ones.”
“The bottom line,” he adds, “is that we all have an investment in reducing the devastating impact that alcohol has on us as individuals, family members and members of our communities. We need to educate ourselves – as parents, teachers, clergy, employers, counselors, friends and neighbors – about the devastating power of alcoholism and the healing power of recovery.”
During Alcohol Awareness Month, we recognize the damaging effects of alcohol and alcoholism and renew our support for individuals battling to overcome addiction. “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow” urges all Americans to promote treatment and recovery options and to support all those whose lives have been affected.
By raising public awareness and reducing the stigma often associated with alcoholism – we can prevent the stigma that stops millions of individuals and families from seeking help. A huge turn-out at these events will send a signal that New Jersey communities embrace recovery and want to provide much-needed support.
We urge local businesses, community organizations, colleges, schools, administrators, and government agencies to get involved in these activities. These are small and easy steps to take, and they can make a tremendous difference in the lives of many in our community. We must continue our efforts to reach out to those who are suffering and to help our next generation avoid the many problems associated with alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
We shouldn’t think twice about getting involved.
The Monday, April 22 event will include:
• Speakers include: Dr. Mattiace, former NFL player who works with/counsels kids; Devin Fox, Executive Director, Young People in Recovery; Steve Liga, NCADD-Middlesex, who specializes in underage drinking stats and prescription drug use; Christine Michaels, a person in recovery and an expert on the science around addiction; and Donovan Miles and Sam Archambeult, local young people in addiction and recovery.
• Organizations will have tables and representatives will be available to answer questions and to give free information. The public-at-large should feel comfortable as it is a safe place for those seeking resources – whether professionally or personally.
• The event will start with light refreshments served at 6:00 p.m. and will be held at the Parsippany PAL Youth Center, 33 Baldwin Road.
• For more information about this event, or to have a table for your organization, please contact Aaron Kucharski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Alcohol Awareness Month, contact NCADD or one of its more than 100 National Affiliates at www.ncadd.org.