BOISE — April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and recent studies show there's a different demographic of people at the highest risk.
Middle-aged women, women of childbearing years ages 25-40 is the biggest I hate to say growth area, but most significant risk area for increase," said medical director of Optum Idaho Dr. Ron Larsen, "there's been an 85% increase in deaths related to alcohol of women in that age category over the past 10 years."
According to experts, you can be genetically predisposed to alcoholism, and it can have lasting effects on all family members. John Flanagan is the new CEO of Northpoint Recovery and knows first-hand how alcoholism can affect a family dynamic.
"My father was an alcoholic, and we would be afraid when he came home after a night of drinking because he would get aggressive or violent," said Flanagan.
Other mental illnesses often follow or precede alcoholism, like depression or anxiety.
"Some people just started recreation, and they have a predisposition towards addiction, so they started recreationally drinking, smoking pot, that kind of thing and it evolved into an addiction and a dependency," said Flanagan, "other people may have been depressed or had anxiety, they experimented with marijuana our drinking, and they liked the feeling that gave them and how that calmed their nerves, so they continued to do it for that reason."
There isn't one way of treating alcoholism and mental illness that works for every person, but pushing away from the stigma could help others make the first step towards recovery.
"If my shoulder doesn't work right and I might need to see an orthopedist, I shouldn't feel that kind of shame about that any more than I would or feel that about alcohol," said Larsen.