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April is Alcohol Awareness Month

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April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Every April the National Council for Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) sponsors Alcohol Awareness Month to increase awareness and understanding of the causes and treatment of the nation’s #1 public health problem: alcoholism.

As part of Alcohol Awareness Month, the NCADD says local, state, and national events will be “aimed at educating people about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism, particularly among our youth, and the important role that parents can play in giving kids a better understanding of the impact that alcohol can have on their lives.” Below are some ways you can begin to recognize an alcohol addiction.

Recognizing an alcohol addiction

When diagnosing alcoholism, medical professionals use a spectrum of 11 criteria or symptoms to measure the severity. The more of the criteria the alcohol abuser meets, the higher the level of alcoholism. The 11 criteria that measure alcoholism are as follows:

  1. Taking alcohol in larger amounts or drinking for longer than you intended to

  2. Wanting to cut down or stop using alcohol but not managing to

  3. Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from use of alcohol

  4. Cravings and urges to use alcohol

  5. Not managing to meet commitments at work, home, or school

  6. Continuing to use alcohol, even when it causes problems with family or friends

  7. Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities in favor of alcohol use

  8. Getting into dangerous situations while under the influence of alcohol, e.g., driving under the influence, using machinery, or having unsafe sex

  9. Continued alcohol consumption, even when you know it is making a physical or psychological problem worse

  10. Having to drink increasing amounts of alcohol to get the effect you want

  11. Development of alcohol withdrawal symptoms when not drinking

This spectrum helps diagnose whether an AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder) is mild, moderate, or severe. Having two or three of the above criteria would be a mild AUD; four to five would be a moderate AUD, and six or more indicates a severe AUD.

Alcoholics generally have six or more of the above criteria.

Though this spectrum offers a good measuring post to classify and diagnose alcoholism, it does not mean that it is always easy to spot when someone has a drinking problem. Moreover, as alcohol is so widely socially acceptable, these criteria may end up being masked by someone’s general lifestyle. For example, having drinks after work twice a week or drinking during sporting events may not signal an alcohol use disorder, but the level of alcohol consumed or the perceived need to drink at these events may be a sign of a larger issue.

Spotting and diagnosing an alcohol use disorder is most effectively achieved by measuring alcohol’s harmful effects on a person's life. About 6% of American adults (around 15 million people) have an alcohol abuse problem, yet just 7% of those receive treatment.

If you or anyone you love is struggling with an alcohol addiction, reach out to Campbell County Health’s Behavioral Health Services at 307-688-5000 for treatment resources.


If you or someone you love is currently in a mental health crisis, contact the Behavioral Health Services Crisis line at 307-688-5555 or call/text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

  • Category: Behavioral Health Services, Campbell County Medical Group Family Medicine, Campbell County Medical Group Complex and Internal Medicine, Campbell County Medical Group Wright Clinic & Occupational Health, Campbell County Memorial Hospital, Doctor, Emergency Department, Health Matters, Laboratory, Medical/Surgical Unit, Nursing, Patient Care, Surgery, Wellness, Occupational Health