Did you know that April is alcohol awareness month?

Every year, Facing Addiction with NCADD promotes the month to raise awareness that alcoholism isn’t just drinking. It’s a deadly disease, but one with treatment options, which is underscored by the theme of 2019’s month: help for today, hope for tomorrow.

In another commemoration, April 11, 2019 is national alcohol screening day.  The organization Screening for Mental Health sponsors this day. As part of this day, professionals travel to military installations, colleges, government agencies, and community sites to determine if people have problems with alcohol.

To make such assessments even more accessible, if people cannot attend these screenings, they can answer online questionnaires, including ones on this site. Such questionnaires are similar to other forms of online screening that can help people determine if they need help with their mental health.

It makes sense that the screening tools are similar, because addiction and mental health are closely linked. Sadly, alcohol use can cause depression or depression may cause alcoholism. Both conditions can make the other worse.

Treatment is available, though. Effective treatment for alcohol abuse, which often combines medication, therapy, and different approaches, can help people recover and handle their depression and other aspects of their mental health.

While in treatment, people learn that there are ways to approach life that do not include alcohol. Having fun without alcohol may take several forms:

Mixing a Batch of Mocktails

Mocktail is a fun word for a nonalcoholic drink. To make some types of mocktails, you remove the alcohol from a drink such as a bloody Mary or a piña colada. Other mocktails require you to mix carbonated soft drinks with other ingredients. The Shirley Temple, for example, combines a soft drink with grenadine, a sweet syrup made from pomegranates and currants. Still other mocktails require more elaborate recipes to make the drinks. The choice is yours.

Making Sober Friends

If you’ve received treatment for alcohol abuse, you’ve probably had to make a lot of changes in your life. Some of the changes may involve your friends. Instead of hitting the bars with your former drinking buddies, consider reconnecting with old friends or making new ones. Sites such as Meetup.com feature different local activities that allow you to pursue your interests and make new friends while doing so.

Focusing on Your Health

Without alcohol in your system, your body and brain will be in better shape. Exercising can help you improve your health further. With the improvements you’ve made, you’ll look and feel better. You may be less likely to resume drinking because you want to hold on to these gains. These gains can also involve trying new foods to add variety and nutrition to your diet.

Learning, Learning, and Learning Some More

Struggling with alcoholism doesn’t give you the time, energy, or resources to learn new things. If you’re experiencing brain fog and other alcohol-related problems, you might not be able to learn. But, giving up drinking gives you more free time and allows your brain cells to heal. Why not use these benefits to take a class in an interesting subject, join a book club, attend a lecture, or visit your local library?

Trying New Things

Did you notice a pattern in these suggestions? The suggestions encourage us to try new things and improve ourselves. So many times, alcoholism traps people, making them feel as if they can’t change or making them fearful of any kind of change.

Sobriety, though, provides people people with the confidence to try things and to change. If they start doing those things, they may be encouraged to try and change even more, thus creating a cycle of positive benefits.

Alcoholism is scary and destructive, but learning about it and ways to fight it are key. With proper screening and treatment, people can create their own positive change.

About the author: Pamela Zuber is a writer and editor who has written about a wide variety of topics, including physical and mental health, addiction, politics, and gender.

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