The seeds planted by the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence on Alcohol Awareness Month in 1987 continue to bear fruit. We are cultivating and inspiring change through dialog and challenging the industry standard to elevate and evolve. Public awareness, reducing stigma and creating open lines of communication about the misuse and abuse of alcohol is vitally important. We are transcending preconceived beliefs and ideas about alcoholism, helping to eliminate the excuses, rationalization, and justification of the overconsumption of alcohol.

Increased Awareness

Through the years this effort has gained momentum and expanded with information to accommodate the needs of individuals struggling with addiction and behavioral issues. Alcohol Awareness month has become a national movement drawing attention to the causes and effects of alcoholism, offering ways to help families and our communities. There was a time when Alcoholics Anonymous was the only platform available to address these concerns. Now we have a multitude of ways to meet the ever-changing trends in therapeutic interventions and needs of an ever-changing population.

This has bridged the gap and serves as mediator between the person who needs help and family members, to adequately support an individual in crisis. The family dynamic is impacted by alcoholism making this a collective issue, rather than an individualized one — prompting the entire family to change and evolve. Even with awareness at the forefront, the stigma and shame surrounding this disease still exists. The value of family support is immeasurable and quantifies the potential for successful recovery. In most cases, the family loves, supports and advocates for change, but they may not know how to navigate the recovery process with certainty and confidence.

I’ve often heard gems such as “Why don’t you just try walking away?” or “Why can’t you just say no?” An earth shattering revelation that could potentially alter the lives of every alcoholic, if it were that simple! Increased awareness encourages anyone to gain the insight and understanding needed on how recovery works. And, because of that not only is the alcoholic getting better, so are families and communities. Together — we are healing. The evolution of recovery modalities offers us the opportunity to acquire new knowledge and apply it. I refer to it as being information rich.

Incorporating what we have learned has proved to be a powerful tool and it has increased our abilities as treatment providers to help others. Today, if someone is looking for an alternative to 12 step programs, there is a platform for that. Looking for further support to bridge the gap? Medication assisted treatment might be an option. This evolution has made accessibility to recovery easier to address the individualized needs of anyone struggling with substance use. All of this brought about by an awareness campaign from 36 years ago.

Alcohol and the body

Alcoholism takes a toll on the body, mind, and spirit. The body’s natural response to toxicity is secretion and emission. Regurgitation is the sign and symptom alcohol consumption has reached a threshold the liver can no longer handle and acetaldehyde levels have become too high. This results in vomit to remove the excess alcohol. These are but a few red flags proving our body is not intended to abuse or over consume alcohol.

What about blackouts, lapses in time, losing interest in activities? Neglecting hygiene, and behaviors such as irritability, isolation, mood swings and continuing to drink despite family, financial, occupational and health concerns. Cravings, high risk behavior, drinking secretly and the inability to control drinking are constant reminders of a problem. Add to that shame, guilt and remorse.

Loss of Control

It is ironic most alcoholics like to be in control, but when alcohol is introduced to our bodies, we relinquish all control and become the perpetrator and victim simultaneously. The way we behave is no longer conducive to the way we were raised, and begins to create an internal conflict, the first of many bouts that we lose to self. Today’s awareness provides us with quizzes and questionnaires to self-evaluate and potentially “diagnose” a problem. If you Google “Am I an Alcoholic?” chances are you know there is a problem or a potential one — and you’re in search of confirmation. Our truth is linear and one dimensional. “Should I be drinking this way, yes, or no?” We all know the answer to that, especially with the way the question is framed. Under any
other circumstance, that question would not be asked, especially of oneself.

Keep the conversation going

It is our role as recovery advocates to initiate the conversation others may not be willing to talk about. Speak with your friends and families about it. As parents and caregivers, we need to teach our children about alcohol misuse and help them build coping skills for a healthy future. Alcoholism is not a shameful topic, it is a disease and those who struggle with it are not flawed individuals. More than 140,000 people die from excessive alcohol use in the U.S. each year.( The great news is an estimated 23 million people — live in recovery from substance use disorders.

Everyone has a vision

I miss the days of 35mm film processing. You immersed yourself in a vision capturing moments to create memories of life experiences. We would drop off the roll of film in an envelope and eagerly wait until we could pick up our treasured photos. Like many great things, our vision and what we imagine was created is being produced in pure darkness.

When we saw the developed prints, we scanned through the images and our emotional response was dictated by what the lens captured. The film was negative when dropped off and positive upon pick up. Like the processing of film, if we allow access to light to soon, the image of our self becomes distorted. Sobriety and recovery do not happen in an instant — it is a process.

Awareness has nurtured the foundation in the way we address alcoholism, revolutionized the industry, challenged the norms, and elevated our standards. As treatment providers we are presented with signs and symptoms associated with self-destructive behavior every day, that leads to being asked questions like, “Do you think I have a problem?”

My response? If you picked up the phone and dialed my office it might be an indicator there is a problem, that you’re in pursuit of help and finding a solution for life on the road to recovery.

While we are the answer to our own problems, usually the solution must be drawn out of us with help, we cannot do this alone.

We recover

Recovery is a verb, an action, a lifestyle. The acceptance of recovery can be seen on T-shirts branded with SoberAF, or Sober Never Looked This Good, but it cannot just be on you, it has to be in you. The prefix Re, means again and again, to indicate repetition. What you choose to do will either dictate your relapse, or your recovery. Through awareness campaigns like this, the message is loud and clear and we hear you. Come take back what rightfully belongs to you: your place, pride, dignity, identity and self-respect.

Self-love, self-forgiveness and self worth await. The image of your true self has yet to be developed, and the experience will be remarkable. The period of darkness will be exchanged for a light that radiates from within and the image of your true self will be exposed.

Scottsdale Recovery Center® has a team of highly qualified and passionate staff to take your periods of darkness and expose you to your own light, when you are ready. We help you become the whole person you are meant to be. Come to where the magic happens and where everyone knows your name. Because of awareness campaigns such as Alcohol Awareness Month, resources like Scottsdale Recovery Center® and many others like it are plentiful, here and ready to help.

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About the Author

Lee Yaiva brings a wealth of knowledge and 16 years of experience in behavioral health and addiction treatment to his role as Chief Executive Officer at Scottsdale Recovery Center. He brings a business savvy that prompts tactical risk and strategic solutions to the ever-changing trends in therapeutic interventions and delivery of service. Mr. Yaiva has served as the tribal liaison for numerous campaigns targeting culturally specific endeavors, incorporating a holistic approach to health and healing that is innate.



Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.