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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Thursday, July 5, 2018

It's time to talk about alcohol!

By Douglas Edwards, Director, Institute for the
Advancement of Behavioral Healthcare



Perhaps at no time in recent memory have drugs so dominated the headlines. The daily drumbeat about the fight against opioid addiction has even reached the highest levels of government, with former Presidents Obama and Clinton as well as President Trump all agreeing that this is a public health emergency we can ill afford to ignore. Forty-two thousand Americans dying from opioid overdoses in one year (1) is a tragedy that demands a society-wide response.

Yet for those of us who have been associated with substance use treatment for some time, there has been a nagging question: Why aren’t we talking about alcohol, too?

Consider this:

  • 110% more Americans die annually from alcohol-related causes than from opioid overdoses (88,000 vs. 42,000).
  • One-third of substance use treatment admissions are related to opioids — another one-third are related to alcohol. 
  • In the current #MeToo climate, the role of alcohol is particularly relevant: Researchers estimate that 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 annually report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or rape.


As the government finds ways to restrict access to opioids, I doubt we will see similar efforts for alcohol, although it is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

Comprehensive discussions about addiction, regardless of substance or behavior, need to be part of national dialogues on health and healthcare, law enforcement, and education.
Yet to ensure alcohol’s importance is not lost in these discussions, as I feel it has been in the past— this year the Institute for the Advancement of Behavioral Healthcare decided to rename our National Conference on Addiction Disorders as the National Conference on Alcohol and Addiction Disorders.

Our programming team has recruited speakers to specifically address alcohol, and we aim to produce resources to ensure alcohol remains part of conversations regarding addiction and behavioral health.
NCAD will continue to address the wide range of addictions and behavioral health disorders—including opioids. The Institute will continue to host national conversations regarding the opioid crisis. But at least once a year we aim to ensure alcohol is part of the country’s dialogue regarding addiction.

Indeed, it’s time to talk about alcohol, too.

Sources:(1) https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html(2) https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics(3) https://wwwdasis.samhsa.gov/webt/quicklink/US15.htm


The National Conference on Alcohol and Addiction Disorders is produced in conjunction with IC&RC. Representing more than 50,000 professionals, IC&RC is the global leader in the credentialing of prevention, substance use treatment, and recovery professionals.


August 19 - 22, 2018
Disneyland, CA.
Conference information:
vendome.swoogo.com/ncad-2018/home.