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Alcohol Awareness Month

WGN-TV Daytime Chicago | March 2024

Did you know that excessive alcohol use leads to more deaths annually than opioid use? Marc Turner, Community Division President at Gateway Foundation, spoke with Daytime Chicago host Amy Rutledge to spread awareness about the dangers of alcohol use disorder and different treatment options for recovery. To learn more about Gateway Foundation’s full continuum of care for alcohol use disorder, reach out to us at 877-505-HOPE(4673). Read the full transcript below:

Daytime Chicago: Daytime Chicago is sponsored by Gateway foundation. While opioid use tends to dominate many people’s attention, deaths from excessive alcohol use far outpace the number of deaths from opioid and other drugs. Gateway foundation can help those struggling with alcohol use. I spoke with community division president Mark Turner to see how they can help.

Recently, the CDC released a study that showed that alcohol deaths have risen about 29% so significantly. And they’ve also shown that they’re higher year in and year out than opioid deaths. And part of what is difficult to understand about the alcohol deaths is only about a third of those are related to an accident or an injury. About two thirds of those happen across a long span of time where the alcohol has a lot of impact on health in their liver, their cardiovascular system, and in other areas of health.

We saw a number of people drinking a lot more during the pandemic. Now the pandemic is over. So did the problem continue post pandemic? Is that what we’re seeing?

Marc Turner, Gateway Foundation: Well, I’ve been in this business a long time. I have dealt with this a lot. Alcohol has been the one substance that almost regardless, is always highly used. And I do think that folks that develop some really bad coping skills around alcohol use during the pandemic, some of them have shed those skills, but a lot of those folks are continuing to use and use in higher quantities alcohol. Like other drugs, the more that you use it, the less effect you get. So in order to get the effect, you have to consume more. And then obviously, that has a lot of health implications for people.

Daytime Chicago: It also seems that people don’t realize how sneaky alcohol can be, how quickly your consumption can creep up on you and what levels are dangerous or different for so many people.

Marc Turner, Gateway Foundation: Well, you know, there are long term use that has an effect. Binge drinking has a lot of effect on your health system as well. And, you know, we find that a lot of people during the pandemic became daily drinkers, and some of them became daily binge drinkers.

Daytime Chicago: How fast does that send your health downhill? I’m assuming for a man, it’s a woman.

Marc Turner, Gateway Foundation: It varies from person to person. It depends upon what other co occurring physical health problems you have. If you have diabetes, alcohol is not your friend in any way, shape or form. If you’ve got hypertension, if you’ve got other diseases, alcohol can certainly exacerbate those and make those worse.

Daytime Chicago: I imagine someone who is dealing with a disorder feels like they are in a bit of coming out of that has got to be very difficult and then there’s stigma with it. And how can you guys help?

Marc Turner, Gateway Foundation: So one of the things that’s really important about alcohol is that quitting cold turkey can be a danger to your health because you can have withdrawal seizures. So really, if you are a heavy alcohol user, you need professional help from somebody like Gateway foundation, where we can help you monitor your health, provide for safe withdrawal from alcohol, and then begin the process of planning what is a recovery journey for you? What does life look like for you in the future? Where can you refind joy and connection with the world, your family and the people around you?

Daytime Chicago: How do you know it’s gotten to be a problem? Is that where gateway can evaluate you?

Marc Turner, Gateway Foundation: We can certainly evaluate you and help you. Most people who have an alcohol use disorder have a lot of denial and kind of blindness to where the problems are. Certainly if somebody in your life tells you that they think you have a problem, your problem is probably even greater than you think.

Daytime Chicago: So if you get to that point and you reach out to gateway for help, you folks have a number of different treatments. So it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in a facility or you’re not.

Marc Turner, Gateway Foundation: We have a full continuum of care, so people can get withdrawal management and detox. They can get residential care. We have outpatient care. We also have virtual programs. The thing that’s most important is that we want to match our program to where you are on your journey. Certainly the earlier that you get to us, you may be able to be treated at less restrictive level of care. But for people who may be consuming very large amounts of alcohol, they are going to probably need some more intensive services.

Daytime Chicago: And can loved ones reach out to you guys for advice as well?

Marc Turner, Gateway Foundation: Absolutely. We’re available to prospective patients. We’re prospective patients, their families, and certainly we are a significant community resource with having a very big presence here in the Chicago area.

Daytime Chicago: All right, if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you can reach out to Gateway foundation. The number is on your screen, or find them

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