An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By By Greg Chadwick, Air Force Materiel Command Health & Wellness Team
  • Air Force Materiel Command Health and Wellness

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness and understanding of alcohol misuse.

Alcohol Awareness Month is a public health program organized to ensure that families and communities have resources and information available about the dangers of unhealthy alcohol consumption, and accessible options to control the crisis of alcohol misuse.

Alcohol-related problems continue to exact an immense toll on individuals, families, and communities. In the United States, more than 140,000 people per year die from alcohol misuse, making it one of the leading causes of preventable deaths, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

“It is important to be an informed consumer when using products that contain alcohol,” said Steven Callon, AFMC’s Drug Demand Reduction Program Manager. “Alcohol’s influence on the human body is highly researched. Once educated with the known facts, most drinkers alter their usage, accordingly.”

Callon states that scientific research suggests controlling quantity and frequency are the key strategies to mitigating immediate, as well as long-term risks.

What is alcohol misuse?

Alcohol misuse, which includes binge drinking and heavy drinking, increases your risk of harmful consequences, including developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD). The more drinks on any day and the more alcohol misuse over time, the greater the risk. The NIAAA defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration to 0.08% or higher. For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to men consuming five or more drinks, or four or more drinks for women, in about two hours.

NIAAA defines heavy drinking as:

  • For women- 4 or more drinks on any day or 8 or more per week
  • For men-5 or more drinks on any day or 15 or more per week

Alcohol misuse has wide-ranging adverse consequences. Alcohol is a factor in about 30 percent of suicides, about 40% of fatal burn injuries, about 50% of fatal drownings and of homicides, and about 65% of fatal falls, according to NIAAA. Around 29% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities involve alcohol.

Excessive alcohol use and its aftereffects also contribute to poor performance at school and work, family problems, violence, memory blackouts, unintentional injuries, and accidents.

Drinking too much alcohol – on a single occasion or over time – can take a serious toll on your health. Health problems associated with alcohol misuse would include:

  • Heart: cardiomyopathy-stretching and drooping of heart muscle, stroke, arrhythmias-irregular heartbeat.
  • Liver: fibrosis-scar tissue formation, cirrhosis-severe scarring, alcoholic hepatitis, and steatosis, or fatty liver. Half of liver disease deaths in the United States are caused by alcohol.
  • Pancreas: pancreatitis-inflammation in pancreas that causes swelling and pain.
  • Cancer: alcohol misuse increases the risk of cancers of the oral cavity, esophagus, larynx, pharynx, liver, colon, and rectum.

Alcohol misuse can lead to AUD, a serious chronic condition that affects 29.5 million people in the United States, according to the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

AUD is characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. AUD can be mild (the presence of two to three symptoms), moderate (the presence of four to five symptoms), or severe (the presence of six or more symptoms), according to NIAAA.

See if you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself.

In the past year, have you:

  • Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?
  • More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn't?
  • Spent a lot of time drinking, being sick from drinking, getting over aftereffects?
  • Wanted a drink so badly you couldn't think of anything else?
  • Found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  • Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, to drink?
  • More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or engaging in unsafe sexual behavior)?
  • Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had an alcohol-related memory blackout?
  • Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  • Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, dysphoria (feeling uneasy or unhappy), malaise (general sense of being unwell), feeling low, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?

If you have any symptoms, then alcohol may be a cause for concern. A healthcare professional can look at the number, pattern, and severity to see whether AUD is present and help you decide the best course of action.

Excessive alcohol use, especially binge and heavy drinking, represents a serious threat to force readiness across the Department of Defense.

Airmen and Guardians who are experiencing negative consequences from their alcohol use and are considering cutting down or quitting drinking altogether and don’t know where to start, can contact their local Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT) program for assistance.

“The ADAPT program is designed to provide both education and treatment to our Airmen and Guardians to give them resources and tools they can put in place to ensure alcohol is not negatively impacting any area of their life,” said Senior Master Sgt. Sara Wright AFMC’s Mental Health Functional Manager.

Key responsibilities of ADAPT are:

  • Prevention and education activities through coordinated efforts with other community agencies.
  • Screenings for alcohol misuse, as well as initiatives to prevent future problems with individuals who are identified as high risk.
  • Brief preventive counseling for those who are engaging in risky drinking but have not yet developed a clinical disorder.
  • Provide evidence-based treatment for individuals who are abusing or are dependent on alcohol. The primary aim is restoring function, improving quality of life, and returning members to productive and unrestricted duty.

Military OneSource is another option for military and their families. For more information, call (800) 342-9647 or visit

Civilian employees and their families may contact the Employee Assistance Program for free, confidential counseling services at (866) 580-9078 or visit the EAP website.

Comprehensive information on preventing alcohol misuse can be found at the NIAAA website.