This April, my Twitter feed was buzzing with tweets about Alcohol Awareness Month. Funded and sponsored by the NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) since 1987, the purpose is to help reduce the stigma associated with alcoholism.
I had never heard of this month before, and to be honest it isn’t something I’ve seen pop up on own personal social channels. However, this year the #SoberNovember was all over my Facebook feed. Some of my friends did it to raise money for charity, and others just as a monthly challenge.
Someone I had met on a trip recently shared an awesome post about she took a lot more from not drinking for a month than she expected. She wrote about how after a month of having more clarity, she doesn’t think she will drink as often as before.
I think there’s two ways to look at alcohol awareness. The first is the benefits of not drinking, for those who don’t have a drinking problem, and how entrenched alcohol is in our society. That we’re told that alcohol is part of having fun, relaxing after a hard day, celebrating a big win, or being accomplished.
The other part is that for a sizeable segment of people, alcohol is an addictive substance. The shift to looking at addiction as a disease, rather than a moral shortfall, is starting to happen, but I think that alcoholism will be slow to follow.
My dad always said that people have no empathy for alcoholics. I think that one reason is that for people who do have that natural off-switch, it’s very hard for them to understanding that not being able to drink in “moderation” is not simply a lack of will power.
I am trying to lessen the stigma in my own network by slowly sharing my own story, telling people that I don’t drink, and offering a source of support when someone, or a friend of theirs, is facing a drinking problem.
I hope that over time, the stigma around alcoholism will lessen, as we see changes happening around mental health and other substance abuse.
Just like recovery, it’s going to take one day at a time.