It is clear that the year 2020 has been unlike any other. We have had to make changes to the way we do things and one of those things has been how we spend our holidays. Opting for virtual celebrations or social distance-guided gatherings may have been a challenge for those who are used to seeing all their loved ones. End of the year celebrations may be especially difficult this year because even though it is a time of celebration, many can also take it as a time of loneliness and grieving as they remember someone who is no longer with them. Many American lives are being lost daily and as we remember to be preventative towards COVID-19 this holiday season, we must remember to be preventative towards the ongoing epidemic of alcohol and drug abuse as well.

The 2020 Regional Needs Assessment (RNA) found that in region 11 a total of 4,569 individuals received substance use disorder treatment in the year 2019. This is already a high number, but we should take into consideration the fact that not all statistics are reported and others may be documented under a different category. Nonetheless, substance use disorders are an epidemic that can be prevented with community education and mobilization. Alcohol is a depressant and since it can be the substance of choice during family gatherings, let’s take some time to learn what the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines as binge drinking: A pattern of drinking that brings someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 drinks or more and women consume 4 drinks or more; in the span of about 2 hours.

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