Can you spend this weekend alcohol-free?

On the first weekend in April, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence invites everyone to spend three days free of all alcohol. Does this sound like a difficult challenge? That may be the first sign that your drinking habits may be unhealthy or at high risk of becoming unhealthy. Individuals or families who experience discomfort or difficulty refraining from alcohol for these 72 hours are encouraged to learn more about the early symptoms of alcoholism. You can click here for more information, or attend a local AA group, or an Al-Anon group for family members. Delawareans can visit to learn more about addiction, recovery and local resources.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, which was founded in 1987 to help reduce the stigma associated with alcoholism through education and awareness. Like other addictions, alcoholism is chronic and progressive, genetically predisposed, and often fatal if left untreated. Because of the prevalence of alcohol in our culture, it can be difficult to recognize the signs of alcoholism early on. Some of the most common symptoms of alcohol abuse are:

– Experiencing temporary blackouts or short-term memory loss
– Exhibiting signs of irritability and extreme mood swings
– Making excuses for drinking such as to relax, deal with stress or feel normal
– Choosing drinking over other responsibilities and obligations
– Becoming isolated and distant from friends and family members
– Drinking alone or in secrecy
– Feeling hungover when not drinking

There are several screening tools that help with determining whether someone has alcoholism. They ask questions such as:

– Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
– Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
– Have you continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem?
– Have there been situations where you ended up drinking much more than you intended?

If you are concerned that you or a loved one has alcoholism, there is hope. People can and do recover. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 20 million people are living in recovery. The first step to recovery can be as simple as talking with your medical provider or counselor, or calling the hotline below. Remember that you are not alone, and help is available.

Struggling with addiction?
Call 24/7

New Castle County: 800-652-2929
Kent and Sussex counties: 800-345-6785