April is Alcohol Awareness Month. This is a good time to reflect on the role that alcohol has on our lives, in the past, present, and future. Most adults in the United States who drink alcohol drink moderately and without complications. But there are those out there that this is an issue, and they suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder. To those that suffer from this disorder, during the month of April we take a stand, hand in hand, to bring awareness to this. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) affects about 15 million adults in the United States, and an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the nation (https://blog.midatlanticbh.com/alcohol-awareness-month).
I know firsthand how AUD can rock a family. My brother struggled with AUD, and eventually, he lost his life to this. My brother and I are just like twins, we share the same birthday 18 years apart on the same day. We would do everything together growing up. I was his little chaperone when he and his wife were dating. My brother was more than just my brother, he was my mentor and best friend. I never got to tell my brother that I was sorry for all the pain that my own substance use disorder caused our mother and father. He was angry with me when I got the call that he jumped in the pool and broke his neck while he was under the influence of Alcohol. I have heard about families outside of my own that have been hit by this, but when it is your own, then you really know how it feels. I know what other families are feeling when it comes to the loss of someone so dear. It’s not just the family that are affected by AUD. My brother was a teacher and affected the many lives of his students, past and present alike. No family needs to feel the pain of losing someone that’s so loved by many.
They say that good things can come from a tragedy like the loss of my brother. The miracle was that my brother was able to donate his organs and give 60 people their chance at a better life. My brother was able to still impact the lives of others by being an organ donor. So, even through this tremendous loss, my brother was able to still help others.
So, for this Alcohol Awareness month, let us get out there and stand shoulder to shoulder and show the world that there needs to be changes in the legislation to bring more awareness, advocacy, and resources to help individuals and families that are impacted by AUD. It is important to know that there is help and support out there. Together we can foster awareness and provide support for each other. We can also advocate to make changes so that others don’t have to suffer the same heart ache and loss that my family suffered. Thank you for this opportunity to share my story and be a voice for those who have been impacted by AUD.