FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 30, 2007
BURLINGTON – On March 30th Vermonters will gather to kick off Alcohol Awareness Month at the 9th annual “Day of Recovery” at the Statehouse. People in recovery from substance abuse, their friends and family, along with advocates and legislators will celebrate long-term recovery and raise awareness about alcohol and substance abuse in Vermont.
Alcohol use in Vermont is above the national average, with more than 64% of Vermont adults having had a drink in the last month - compared to 56% for the nation as a whole. Nearly 15% of Vermonters reported binge drinking (having 5 of more drinks on 1 occasion).
“The rate of alcohol consumption in Vermont has gone down in recent years,” said Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN, acting commissioner at the Vermont Department of Health. “But there is still a great deal of work to do to educate people about healthy alcohol use, so they can avoid the health risks, chronic conditions and injuries caused by excessive alcohol consumption. This is why we are encouraging adults to get a simple and free screening to understand their own alcohol use.”
Many Vermonters know first-hand what it is like to live in a home or relationship where alcohol has become a problem. Of the nearly 8,000 Vermonters enrolled in some type of drug and alcohol treatment program in 2005, over half (4,516) were being treated primarily for alcohol dependence. Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in Vermont and in the nation.
Vermonters in recovery are speaking out to encourage alcohol screening for everyone:
- “It can be hard for people to get past the stigma of unhealthy alcohol use and thoughts that they may be weak because of it,” said Dennis McBee, community prevention coordinator, who began drinking when he was in middle school and now uses his experience to educate others in the community. “But, if someone had provided me information like an alcohol screening I would have had more options.”
- Nancy Bassett, co-coordinator at Kingdom Recovery Center who is marking 7-years in recovery herself, knows how hard it can be to come to grips with alcohol problems. “We try to let people know that if they begin to feel that they might have a problem, to analyze it and to talk to someone about it. A screening would also be a good reminder to take a look at your alcohol use.”
During April, Vermonters can call a toll-free and anonymous phone service at 1-800-639-6095, or log onto www.alcoholscreening.org anytime for a quick alcohol screening.
The screening only takes a few minutes and provides information on drinking status based on the level of use, including links to local services and programs.
“It is common for people to not realize that they have a problem with alcohol until it is brought to their attention by their friends, family, employers, or even law enforcement,” according to Patty McCarthy, director of Friends of Recovery-Vermont. “The consequences of overuse or problem drinking can be devastating not only to the drinker, but also for those who care about him or her. This is why we want Vermonters to know that there are treatment and recovery support programs available within their communities and that it’s okay to reach out and ask for help.”
During the month of April, Vermont Recovery Centers, prevention coalitions and treatment providers around the state will be handing out information about free alcohol screening options.
For more details about the “Day of Recovery” activities go to www.friendsofrecoveryvt.org. For more information about Alcohol Awareness Month and alcohol prevention and treatment in Vermont, go to http://healthvermont.gov.