April’s Alcohol Awareness Month: Insights from Illinois Liquor Control Commission

Imagine celebrating a joyful occasion such as a loved one’s 50th birthday party. What about going through the loss of a loved one while in despair? Life’s journey is a rollercoaster ride, and individuals often seek comfort or enjoyment through liquor. 

However, without suitable education and balance, alcohol can quickly overturn lives.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. So, it’s essential to shed light on how liquor consumption can profoundly affect individuals, and understanding avenues of support to break free from this habit is crucial.

Nicole Sanders, industry education manager of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, stated, “The primary objectives of Alcohol Awareness Month is to raise awareness about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption and to educate the public through activities, events, educational materials and conversations to create effective strategies for preventing alcohol-related problems.”

While popularity rates are based on factors, African Americans experience similar rates of alcohol use as the general population. Still, it’s important to note that differences exist in access to treatment and resources for addressing alcohol-related issues within African American communities.

“Alcohol is the most used drug in America. It’s legal, cheap and easily accessible. As the regulatory agency, we would differ from outside resources for statistical data because we must educate all the citizens of Illinois. Some of those resources include the Illinois Youth Survey, Alcohol Rehab Guide, and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, et cetera,” said Sanders. 

“Alcohol abuse can affect trust, finances, emotional bonds and mental health,” Nicole Sanders.  

Preventing Underage Drinking

Preventing underage drinking involves a combination of policies, education, enforcement, and community efforts aimed at reducing access to alcohol for minors and promoting responsible alcohol use among young people.

Sanders states, “Some of the ways to prevent underage drinking, in my opinion, are to talk to the youth and not at them. Be transparent with them about any experience(s) you may have had. Young people today are brilliant and aware, and I believe that having candid conversations builds trust and ultimately helps prepare them to make responsible choices as they journey into adulthood.”

Alcohol abuse can also intersect with other societal issues, such as mental health or domestic violence. Alcohol abuse affects every aspect of a person’s life. The reason is that every situation depends on the scenario, and there isn’t just one overarching response.

In this viewpoint, alcohol awareness serves as a platform to highlight the importance of addressing alcohol-related issues and to mobilize efforts at the individual, community and societal levels to promote healthier attitudes and behaviors.

“With it being Alcohol Awareness Month, the ILCC plans on launching our 2024 Programs and initiatives. We will cover many topics, from the risk of overconsumption and ways to drink responsibly to how alcohol affects the body and youth alcohol awareness, which will coincide with the Youth Alcohol Awareness Summit that will be held at the 2024 Illinois State Fair,” said Sanders.

Peer Pressure is still a top issue, especially when it relates to underage drinking. Drinking trends are also a contributing factor, and thanks to social media, these trends can reach a wider audience. The best way to address this is with information and education, with the hope that individuals will make sound, informed choices.

The Cost of Alcohol Abuse

The economic costs linked with alcohol abuse encompass healthcare expenses and lost productivity. In Illinois, DUIs can initiate costs starting at $7,000, excluding court and attorney fees.

Family and friends can support each other by providing options and solutions to help their loved ones. In these types of situations, professional help is the best option. Ultimately, getting and maintaining a sober lifestyle is up to the individual, and the family and friends should be there to encourage them on their journey because it is a one-day-at-a-time process.

As “Summertime Chi” approaches, Nicole also tells us how to comply with Illinois’s rules and laws.

“First, everyone should follow the laws. Illinois is a dual license state, so license holders must have a local and a state license. Local liquor commissions must follow state laws, but the local liquor commission can also set additional laws for their municipality.”

For resources for those seeking help with alcohol addiction, Illinois has a wide range of prevention organizations and support agencies across the state-specific organizations online.

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