NJAMHAA Promotes Alcohol Screening for Alcohol Awareness Month

April 11, 2017

MERCERVILLE, NJ - Recent reports by Princeton University researchers Anne Case and Angus Deaton indicate that mortality rates from "deaths of despair" among middle-aged white Americans have been steadily rising since 1999, leading to an overall slight reduction in life expectancy in recent years. "Deaths of despair" are preventable deaths from causes such as suicides, overdoses, and diseases caused by abuse of drugs or alcohol. While the media gives much-deserved attention to the plague of heroin and opioids throughout the country, many people can forget that alcohol, a legal and socially acceptable (and even encouraged) substance, remains the leading drug of abuse in the United States and in many countries around the world. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about one quarter of adults reported binge drinking in the past month; approximately 88,000 people annually die from alcohol-related causes, making it the fourth most prevalent cause of preventable deaths in America.

Because of the vast negative impact of alcohol abuse, the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc. (NJAMHAA) supports Alcohol Awareness Month, an initiative sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADD) since 1987. As part of Alcohol Awareness Month, Screening for Mental Health (SMH), which promotes awareness of mental health conditions and helps people who suffer identify areas of concern and seek help, promoted National Alcohol Screening Day on April 6. Robins' Nest, Inc., and Comprehensive Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., both NJAMHAA members, were the New Jersey providers that worked with SMH to offer free screenings on National Alcohol Screening Day.

Every day, NJAMHAA member agencies treat those who suffer from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, providing hope and healing to people in crisis. Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO of NJAMHAA, has stated: "Alcohol addiction is often difficult to detect until it is severe. NJAMHAA encourages everyone to think about their drinking habits and to use screening services if drinking is a concern. As communities throughout New Jersey continually suffer from the effects of alcohol abuse, such as intoxicated driving, loss of productivity, and negative health impacts, the problem is as serious as ever. Fortunately, help is available and highly effective."

Negative health, family, social, and economic effects of alcohol abuse can be found in every community in the United States, and across every race, gender, and socioeconomic background. Like other addictions, a person's addiction to alcohol affects people beyond just that individual. Moreover, as students head into spring break, it is important to remind young people of the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,816 people died in alcohol-related car accidents in New Jersey between 2003 and 2012.

NJAMHAA is a statewide trade association representing 160 organizations that serve New Jersey residents with mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders, and their families. In its advocacy efforts, NJAMHAA urges federal and state legislators to keep expanding access to substance abuse treatment and recovery services as a priority. NJAMHAA also encourages residents who are concerned about problem drinking to seek professional help. To find agencies within the state that offer treatment for alcohol and other substance use disorders, visit NJAMHAA's website at www.njamhaa.org.

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