Alcohol is legal. Drinking alcohol is legal. But the word legal doesn’t mean that it’s safe or healthy. In honor of Alcoholism Awareness Month, we thought it would be a good idea to explore why something that is so weaved into our culture is just as dangerous a drug as the ones that are illegal.

We Aren’t as Sensitive to Alcoholism as We Should Be

Thanks in part to the media, drinking alcohol is a normal and expected part of growing up. On average, alcohol makes an appearance on television once about every 20 minutes and your typical American teenager sees 100,000 beer commercials before the age of 18. With stats like these, it’s hardly a surprise that we have a skewed idea of how dangerous alcohol can be.

Television isn’t the only place we have to worry about either. With social networks in the palm of our hands every second of every day, we are constantly being marketed to even if at first, we don’t recognize it. An example that highlights this is the marketing campaign that was launched on Instagram last year by a Parisian ad agency, BETC, called “Like My Addiction.” The campaign was a fake Instagram account belonging to a Louise Delange, a 20-something model who – amongst her lavish lifestyle of boat parties and holidays abroad – displayed how alcoholism can be a hidden problem in plain sight. /p>

“We were briefed on the difficulty of detecting the addiction of someone close to you—a friend, a child or a parent. We thought an interesting way of showing it would be to create a person people would meet every day but whom we’d never suspect of being an addict, by setting up a fake Instagram account,” said Stéphane Xiberras Paris, BETC president, and creative director.

Paris thought that more people would have noticed the pattern. This only demonstrates the scale of how we have become so desensitized to alcoholism.

Alcohol is the Most Commonly Used Addictive Substance in the United States

It has a lot to do with the fact that it is a legal substance but alcohol has surpassed the taboo reputation of many other drugs. We’ve been hearing a lot about heroin and fentanyl and the devastating effects that they’ve had on our country for the past couple of years. While other drugs get more of a spotlight, this doesn’t discount the fact that alcohol remains the most commonly used addictive substance.

It’s the fourth leading preventable cause of death in America today and 31% of all driving fatalities are attributed to driving under the influence of alcohol.* So often addictions to alcohol go unnoticed by friends and family members due to how socially acceptable it is.

Alcohol is a Primary Factor in the Four Leading Causes of Death

This statistic is jarring. It’s especially problematic because kids who start drinking before age 15 are also four times more likely to develop a dependency on alcohol.

In addition, research has revealed that drinking during teenage years could greatly affect adolescent brain development.

The best thing to do, as a parent, is to talk to your child early, and more importantly, often. Kids who have conversations with their parents about the dangerous behaviors and consequences of alcohol consumption and drug use are 50% less likely to use drugs and alcohol as opposed to those who don’t have these kinds of conversations.

April is Alcoholism Awareness Month and the NCADD and The Discovery House want you to know that if you are concerned for yourself or a loved one, help is available. If your drinking has caused problems in your personal, professional, or family life, it may be time to explore your options for alcohol addiction treatment.

For more information or to speak to addiction specialist, call The Discovery House today at (855) 203-7930.

*in the year 2014