Breaking down the barriers to treatment

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Join us in breaking down the barriers to treatment and recovery and making help more readily available.

Did you know?

Only 6.7 percent of adults who had an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2016 received treatment, and alcohol is one of the nation's most preventable causes of death, only behind tobacco and a poor diet/sedentary lifestyle.

Far more than should be.

That's how many people are struggling with alcohol abuse in the U.S. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an estimated 15.1 million people age 12 or older had an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2016, but only 6.7 percent of adults who had AUD received treatment. More than 80,000 people die from alcohol-related causes each year, and alcohol is one of the nation's most preventable causes of death, only behind tobacco and a poor diet/sedentary lifestyle.¹

AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol consumption and a negative emotional state when not using.

Making care more readily available

UHS is committed to serving our communities by providing much-needed treatment for people with AUD. One organization that provides these services is Foundations Recovery Network (FRN), based in Nashville, Tennessee. FRN is a leader in evidence-based, integrated treatment for co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders through clinical services, education and research.

"Our communities, families and loved ones are impacted by alcohol misuse and abuse," says Kathleen Bigsby, PhD, LCSW, Group Director, Foundations Recovery Network. "Raising awareness is the first step to gaining an understanding of the magnitude of the problem. It can be challenging to talk with a family member, colleague or neighbor about concerns you may have, and yet we can see the harmful impact of alcohol related problems. It is our collective responsibility to become more aware and to be a part of the solution."

FRN has six inpatient and 13 outpatient treatment facilities across the country. Its providers have treated more than 13,000 patients for alcohol abuse since 2013. Overall, patients report a clinically significant decrease in the number of days of alcohol use and intoxication following residential treatment at FRN facilities.

Alcohol Awareness Month creates a path to acknowledge that we need to do more and learn more about unhealthy behaviors before they escalate into a problematic life circumstance.
— Dr. Kathleen Bigsby

A skills-building, evidence-based treatment model

Without the skills or ability to manage stress, it's easy for people to turn to methods of coping, such as alcohol use, that can appear to be a short-term solution. Unfortunately, the misuse of alcohol has a harmful impact on physical and emotional well-being when this short-term coping strategy becomes the "go to" answer.

Once the use becomes problematic, individuals can seek treatment to become more aware of the benefits of emotion regulation. Through skills learned with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and mindfulness practices, they can learn how to reduce stress and the vulnerability to alcohol problems.

"When I finally decided I had enough, I was ready to go to treatment," says Bo Brown, former FRN patient and recovering alcoholic. "I was tired of drinking myself to death in fear and isolation. Fortunately, I was blessed to go to the right facility for me. Through counseling, I got help for my PTSD. I got help for my feelings of inferiority and inadequacy. But most importantly, I got help for my addiction. I owe my life and new beginnings to those who helped me get to where I am today."

A skills-building, evidence-based treatment model can help people learn to manage their emotional experience and better understand how that impacts behavior, interpersonal relationships and the ability to function at a higher level. "Learning how to implement skills to better regulate emotions is just one method we teach in our co-occurring treatment programs," says Dr. Bigsby.

Heroes in Recovery

Heroes in Recovery is a movement ignited by Foundations Recovery Network and the people who are in recovery from addiction and co-occurring disorders.
Its mission is to:

  • Eliminate the social stigma that keeps individuals with addiction and mental health issues from seeking help
  • Share stories of recovery for the purpose of encouragement and inspiration
  • Create an engaged sober community that empowers people to get involved, give back and live healthy, active lives

Learn more about Heroes in Recovery →

  1. Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, June 2017.