More than 15 million Americans suffer from alcohol abuse

April is Alcohol Awareness Month and a therapist at SSM Health Treatment and Recovery Center has advice if you know someone who might be abusing alcohol

Fred Bodimer
April 30, 2019 - 9:52 am

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - How common is alcohol abuse these days?  

"It's very prevalent within the United States," said Sarah Mudd a therapist at SSM Health Treatment and Recovery Center at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital in St. Charles.  "I was reading an article from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.  And in 2015, 15.1 million American adults suffered from alcoholism.  Now that was just in 2015 so you can imagine the numbers have greatly increased since then."

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence estimates as many as 20 million individuals and family members are living lives in recovery from alcohol use. And only about 1.3 million adults -- or 8.3 percent of those with a drinking problem -- received specialized treatment for alcohol abuse.

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According to Mudd, it's pretty hard to avoid alcohol these days for some people.

 "They share alcohol at meals, weddings, holidays," Mudd tells KMOX.  "Trying to detach from alcohol is extremely difficult because it is so engrained in our lives and in our culture.   If we just take a look at sporting events or any other type of major event, it's all attached to alcohol.  So whenever we talk about alcoholism, it seems like it's been around forever."

As for the dangers of alcohol abuse, Mudd says there are many.

"The effects can range from physical issues like diabetes, high blood pressure and all the way up to liver failure. Additionally, alcohol consumption can also exacerbate or create mental health issues such as anxiety and depression."

 Mudd says she has a couple of key questions to ask those who think they may have a drinking problem.

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"I tell them to look at their lives. Are they functioning in a proper way? Is there a level of impairment going on here in terms of taking care of their ADLs -- or activities of daily living -- such as showering, eating, dressing or attending work?  Are they doing the basic functions to live at an ideal level?"

 And if you think you have a loved one who might be abusing alcohol, Mudd has this advice.

"Approach them in a caring, non-judgmental way.  Say 'I see some things happening, and I love you.  What can I do to help?' Inform and educate yourself and help find resources to try to understand addiction better so that when you approach your loved one, you can help them in the best way possible."

SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital in St. Charles recently opened a new treatment and recovery clinic.  It offers both inpatient and outpatient treatment for alcohol and drug abuse. 

For more info, contact SSM Health Treatment and Recovery at 1-888-949-7150.

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