The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, known better as NCADD, actually began in 1944 as the NCEA, or National Committee for Education on Alcoholism. It was founded by Marty Mann, the first female to ever achieve sobriety in AA, and also the most predominant female advocate for the awareness of alcoholism in American history.
In 1950, the NCEA became the NCA, (National Council on Alcoholism), and then in 1990 the council decided to include other drugs in its focus. That is when the name of the organization finally stuck: NCADD. Since the final name change, the council has grown to include and operate a multitude of substance abuse service centers, collectively known as the NCADD Affiliate Network.
The accomplishments are many. NCADD is responsible for:
- Defining alcoholism as a disease and advocating for its inclusion by the American Medical Association
- Creating the first ever employee assistance program in the workplace
- Leading the effort to pass the Minimum Drinking Age Act, making 21 the legal age
- Advocating successfully for health insurance to cover substance abuse treatment
- Establishing both the American Society for Addiction Medicine and Alcohol Awareness Month
It is that last bullet point the rest of this article is concerned with. We want to talk a bit about Alcohol Awareness Month, of which this April will be the 31st annual, and what it means. We also want to touch base on the dangers of alcohol and some current statistics.
Alcohol Awareness Month
According to the NCADD Wikipedia page, there are two missions of the entire organization: “first to have a proactive national education and advocacy program attacking the stigma and misunderstanding about alcoholism, treatment and recovery; second, to operate service centers in communities across the country staffed by professionals helping individuals/families with alcohol problems.”
The first half of that mission statement is embodied by Alcohol Awareness Month.
Since 1987, every single April has been the month chosen. While not stated anywhere officially, it seems a perfect month to choose since the season of spring begins and life starts anew. Anyway, AAM (Alcohol Awareness Month) is all about communities taking action to educate and inform the public on both the dangers of alcohol and the fact that alcoholism is indeed a disease, not a lifestyle.
Every AAM has its own theme, and for 2018 the theme is “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage’.” The idea is to teach children and adults alike that consuming alcohol is dangerous, and should not be considered a part of a normal childhood. Many people see getting drunk as a milestone of sorts, especially getting drunk for the first time. This idea should be done away with. Getting drunk is simply step one toward a potential disease called alcoholism.
Things You Should Know
As horrible as death is, you tend to hear the death-associated statistics most often with alcohol. You hear how nearly 90,000 Americans die every year due to causes related to alcohol. You hear how nearly 2,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 alone die every year from injuries caused while using alcohol. Well, there are some non-fatal alcohol statistics that some would argue are equally as devastating.
For instance, 37% of sexual assaults involve alcohol and 27% of violent assaults do. Nearly three-quarters of a million college students are assaulted annually by someone who has been using alcohol. More than 10,000 Americans die from drunken driving every year. About 15% of robberies and about 40% of homicides involve alcohol. No other substance can even touch these statistics. Alcohol may in fact be the most dangerous substance on the planet… more on this in a moment.
Alcohol is definitely the most widely abused drug on the planet, and it’s estimated that approximately one billion (with a b) people are drinkers worldwide. Alcohol is also the deadliest drug, at least in the US. Now, is alcohol actually the most dangerous drug? It depends on your perspective.
A team of UK-based scientists in 2010 studied a total of 25 different substances that are widely abused, in an effort to rank them from most to least dangerous. Among those studied were heroin, crack, meth, ecstasy, magic mushrooms, LSD, and alcohol. The study used an “overall harm score” out of 100. Here is a small excerpt: “Overall, alcohol was the most harmful drug (overall harm score 72), with heroin (55) and crack cocaine (54) in second and third places. It [the study] also found the legal status of most drugs to bear little relation to their harms.”
So there you have it. There is significant evidence to suggest that alcohol is indeed the most dangerous drug, more so than heroin or crack. Please be aware that this is NOT to say that one can use heroin or crack in the name of it being ‘safer’ than alcohol. Every single substance that is abused is dangerous, from caffeine to tobacco and from alcohol to heroin and so on.
Now that you understand how dangerous alcohol really is, and now that you are aware of NCADD’s Alcohol Awareness Month and its national reach, it’s time to take action. Click here to learn how to participate in AAM, either individually or for your community. NCADD offers an entire kit for those participating. It would be a great idea for any community, but maybe you live in one of those areas that you know has a heavy drinking problem per capita. In that case, bring AAM to the attention of your local police station or community center. Spread the word.
Alcoholism is a horrible disease, and it affects us all. The weekend of March 30th, 2018 through April 01st, 2018 is known as Alcohol-Free Weekend. From the NCADD site: “During Alcohol-Free Weekend, NCADD extends an open invitation to all Americans to engage in three alcohol-free days.” Participate. Encourage others to. One weekend could become a month which could become a year which could become a lifetime.
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