Return to Health Headquarters

April 2007

NHM Health Focus: Alcohol Awareness Month


Background Information
Neuroscience for Kids - Alcohol (UWEB)
Frequently Asked Questions (NIAAA)
Alcohol and your health: The Pros and Cons (MayoClinic)
Snapshot of Drinking Consequences (NIAAA)
How Does Alcohol Affect the World of A Child (LKCAF)

Interactive Tools
Alcohol Calorie Calculator (NIAAA)
Anonymous Online Tests (SAMHSA)
Alcohol Quiz (British School of Motoring)
Alcohol-use: The cost of crossing the line (MayoClinic)

Resources for Educators
Substance Abuse Prevention Training (SAMHSA)
Understanding Alcohol: Investigations into Biology and Behavior (NIAAA NIH)
Prevention Education Tools (SAMHSA)
Teaching and Learning: Alcohol (Wired for Health)
LifeBytes: Alcohol (Depts. of Health & Education, UK)
Brief Interventions (NIAAA)

Resources for Students
the cool spot: young teen's place for info on alcohol (NIAAA)
Tips for Teens (NCADI, HHS)
A Message for Teenagers (AA)
Body Effect (ALAC New Zealand)
Just for Kids (NACOA)
GirlPower (HHS)
Too Smart to Start (SAMHSA)
Your Life, Your Choice (2learn.ca)

Help for Individuals
Getting Help (NIAAA)
Substance Abuse Help for Individuals (SAMHSA)
Just for Kids (National Association for Children of Alcoholics)

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Often, people who are not alcoholic do not understand why an alcoholic can’t just “use a little willpower” to stop drinking. However, alcoholism has little to do with willpower. Alcoholics are in the grip of a powerful “craving,” or uncontrollable need, for alcohol that overrides their cognitive ability to stop drinking. This need can be as strong as the need for food or water. (NCADI, SAMHSA, USDHHS)

National Alcohol Screening Day® (NASD), Thursday, April 5, 2007, "is an annual event that provides information about alcohol and health as well as free, anonymous screening for alcohol-use disorders. Event sites are located in community, college, primary health care, military and employment settings. The program is designed to provide outreach, screening and education about alcohol’s effects on health for the general public." Screenings tell the participants whether or not consultation with a professional would be useful. To participate, you can go to a screening site near where you live, or you can go to the Internet for an online screening. (NASD)

Regular, long term use of alcohol can:

  • "Damage the frontal lobes of the brain.
  • Cause an overall reduction in brain size and increase in the size of the ventricles.
  • Lead to alcoholism (addiction to alcohol) and result in tolerance to the effects of alcohol and a variety of health problems.
  • Cause a vitamin deficiency."
    Neuroscience for Kids

"Alcoholism, also known as 'alcohol dependence,' is a disease that includes four symptoms:

  • Craving: A strong need, or compulsion, to drink.
  • Loss of control: The inability to limit one’s drinking on any given occasion.
  • Physical dependence: Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, occur when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking.
  • Tolerance: The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to 'get high'.”

"Alcoholism, like other addictions, is a brain disorder. Research has shown that genes shape how an individual experiences alcohol—how intoxicating, pleasant, or sedating it is—and how susceptible he or she is to developing alcohol use disorders. Research has also shown that chronic heavy drinking causes long–term—and perhaps permanent—changes in the way the brain responds to alcohol. These parallel insights from neuroscience research are paving the way for new medications that will improve alcoholism treatment and relapse prevention." (NIAAA)

"Research shows that more than 40 percent of individuals who start drinking before the age of 15 will develop alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence at some point in their lives."(SAMHSA, USDHHS)

For those who drink but have not been specifically identified as at risk for alcoholism, or alcohol abuse, screening is a first step.

Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum resources related to alcohol and alcohol use: