Alcohol is a problem for nearly six million women in the U.S. who abuse or are dependent upon the substance. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University announced these statistics this month as part of Alcohol Awareness Month. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, frequent binge drinking in women’s colleges increased by 124 percent between 1993 and 2001 and nearly 21.6 million Americans are in need of treatment for an alcohol problem. Unfortunately, these individuals still have not received the treatment they so desperately need. “Alcohol abuse is a tool women use to numb out emotional pain, often not realizing that an addiction has developed because they are doing something perceived as legal and social, and therefore okay,” said Jacqueline Dawes, the owner and founder of Brookhaven Retreat. Dawes highlights that alcohol merely conceals real issues that women are facing, such as depression, low self-esteem, trauma and disempowerment. Alcohol is really just the tip of the iceberg and rarely does the person choose to be an alcoholic. While friends and family may not understand the lack of self-control, in reality the person finds it unbearable to live without their dependency on alcohol. The signs that can indicate alcohol abuse include: • Guilt associated with the drinking • Drinking to calm nerves, improve sad mood or forget worries • Unsuccessful attempts to quit drinking • Lying about or hiding drinking habits • Feeling irritable, resentful or unreasonable • Causing harm either to oneself or someone else while drinking • Needing to drink increasingly greater amounts to achieve desired effects A reliance on alcohol can be addressed and even treated, but the first step is acknowledging a problem before a solution can be possible.