How Alcohol Factors into Mental Health

Blue graphic with white writing that says, "April is National Alcohol Awareness Month" and has a graphic of a red ribbon on the left side.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, which focuses on raising awareness and understanding of alcohol misuse. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious effects, including quality of life and physical and mental health.

How Alcohol Affects Mental Health

Substance use disorders can be described as harmful habits involving alcohol or other substances that lead to significant disruption in daily life, which decrease functioning and cause considerable distress. Substance use disorders affect an individual's thoughts, emotions, behaviors, appearance and well-being. Well-supported scientific evidence shows that addiction to alcohol or drugs is a chronic brain disease with a course that includes relapse and potential for recovery (Kelly, Saitz & Wakeman, 2016). The brain is still developing until age 26, and substance use can interfere with healthy brain development.

Alcohol is often used to try to decrease symptoms of depression or anxiety, but excessive drinking is likely to make those symptoms worse. People with substance use disorders are likely to have co-occurring mental health challenges. Of the 18.3% of adults ages 18+ of experience mental illness, 3.4% have both a substance use disorder and a mental illness (Hartz et al., 2014). Many people use alcohol or other drugs to “self-medicate” in hopes of reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, or psychosis. Alcohol can result in intensified feelings of anxiety, depression and anger, inhibit the use of effective coping strategies, and increase the chance of a person acting on suicidal or self-injury feelings.

Seeking Treatment 

Substance use disorders are treatable. With research-based treatments, individuals can stop using alcohol and resume productive lives. If alcohol has started interfering with your quality of life, it is time to seek help. Seeking treatment for Alcohol use disorder is not easy, but it is brave and necessary to live a happy, healthy life. Recovery is possible with the proper support and resources. SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-622-HELP (4357), is a confidential, free, 24-hour service for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. The hotline refers individuals to local facilities, support groups and community-based organizations. Additionally, SAMSHA has an online treatment locator that can help find a treatment facility for people based on the provided zip code. Individuals can call or text 988, a national suicide and crisis lifeline, if crisis support is needed for themselves or their loved ones. No matter the location in the United States, by texting 988, individuals can be connected to a caring, trained counselor who can help.

Centennial Mental Health Center offers Substance Use Disorder treatment throughout Northeast Colorado in a variety of locations. Centennial’s specialists are dedicated to supporting individuals on their paths to addiction recovery through care plans that meet their specific needs. Additionally, Centennial’s prevention team works with schools to teach children and teenagers about the dangers of underage drinking.

Centennial's Substance Abuse Disorder Services include:

  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills (DBT)
  • Level II Education
  • Level II Therapy
  • Minors in Possession Treatment
  • Relapse Prevention
  • Specialized Women's Treatment
  • Special Connections
  • Strategies for Self-Improvement and Change
  • Seeking Safety Group
  • Sober Living Facilities
  • UA Monitoring
  • Level 4+
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (Suboxone) for Opioid Dependency

For more information on Centennial’s Substance Use Disorder Services, please call your local Centennial office.

Children are the Future

Week of the Young Child

Blue graphic with white and black text that says, "Week of the Young Child" with a graphic of painted hands below.

What is Week of the Young Child?

The Week of the Young Child, a significant event sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), is celebrated annually. This year, it will be observed from April 6th to 12th. The Week of the Young Child draws public attention to the needs of young children (birth through age eight) and their families, acknowledging the early childhood programs and services that cater to these needs. It serves as a platform to raise community awareness and strategize how we, as individuals and communities, can better meet the needs of all young children and their families.

Why is early childhood development important?

The early years of a child’s life are not just a phase, but a transformative period that lays the foundation for their health and future development. These early experiences are not fleeting moments, but powerful opportunities that shape the development of the brain. This understanding of the transformative power of early childhood development should inspire us all to prioritize and invest in it.

Who Plays a Role?

Children look up to a variety of role models to influence how they behave. Every individual the child interacts with can influence how they think, behave and operate. Parents, educators, coaches, peers and policymakers are just some of the individuals who play a vital role in children's development.

Parents and caregivers

For many children, the most important role models are their parents and caregivers. Children look up to a variety of role models to help shape how they behave at home, in school, in relationships and in stressful/difficult situations. Parents/caregivers are the first “teachers” for their children. From birth, children rely on their caregivers for the care and support needed to live a happy and healthy life. Early interactions have a long-lasting ripple effect on development from the early childhood stages through adulthood. Caregivers' attitudes toward parenting and the practices that follow can create a foundation for the child to live a healthy life. All individuals in a child’s life can continue to grow and further develop their knowledge regarding the factors that can lead to their children living a healthy life. Reading educational articles about childhood development and parenting practices can help establish a foundation to build upon and increase caregiver knowledge of what aspects help create a healthy childhood.

Ways caregivers can encourage the healthy development of young children include:

  • Follow the child’s lead and responding in a predictable way
  • Showing compassion and sensitivity
  • Have a consistent routine and rules
  • Support health and safety
  • Respond appropriately
  • Discuss positive role models and what they look like
  • Read parenting and early childhood development resources


Children's social world expands beyond their family and caregivers. As they grow, they form unique relationships with peers that significantly influence their development. During the early childhood stages, children acquire skills such as assertiveness, conflict management, social competence, respect, and play, largely through interactions with their peers. Peers can play a significant role in a child's later development, both positively and negatively.


Early educators use practices that build upon children’s established brain connections and support the further construction of knowledge. The educational experience young children receive from birth until age eight plays a crucial role in their development and influences their future. Early childhood educators help children build academic, social, motor and life skills.

Roles of an early childhood educator that promotes healthy development include:

  • Incorporate social connections
  • Create hands-on learning experiences
  • Inspire and motivate
  • Encourage creativity and self-expression
  • Teach self-care
  • Provide a positive, supportive learning environment


Policymakers can set the foundation for healthy development and well-being throughout life. Social determinants of health shape how one grows, lives, works and plays from the earliest stages of life. Systemic inequalities and access to basic needs affect a child's development and can have lasting consequences. Creating robust and equitable programs and support systems that account for social determinants can create a path toward healthy childhood development.

How Centennial’s Early Childhood Team Encourages Healthy Development

Centennial’s Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation program focuses on the target population of very young children from ages 0-5. The program promotes children’s social, emotional and behavioral aspects of their development when consulting with providers, and offers education and support that is specifically developed for caregivers of very young children. By promoting young children’s healthy development, the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation team works to enhance the quality of lives for individuals, families and communities.

More to Come

We all play an important role in the development of children. We are excited to share more information with you throughout the week to celebrate our youngest members in our communities. Keep an eye on our social media this week for links to helpful information, fun activities and more!