by Christine Leccese, MPH
Each April, we welcome nature’s new beginnings. The snow has finally melted, the buds are on the trees and the flowers are sprouting up. We start thinking about what the warmer months will mean – travel to visit family, baseball and soccer for the kids, and just being outside more.
As we focus on the positive in our day-to-day lives, there is one habit that is important to address – our drinking. April is Alcohol Awareness Month. People may hear this and joke that they’re fully aware of their drinking, but problem drinking is no laughing matter. Although drinking is a legal and accepted part of our society, for many it can lead to broken relationships, brushes with the law and for some service members, major career setbacks.
If drinking is so common and accepted, how do we know if we have a problem with alcohol? Many people mistakenly believe that if they don’t drink every day they don’t have a problem. Actually, both maintenance drinking (drinking every day) and binge drinking (drinking excessively when you do drink) can suggest a problem with alcohol.
The effects of drinking on home or work life may also provide clues, although you may not see this. A problem relationship with drinking isn’t always clear to the person doing the drinking.
Are you the gal who gets belligerent and consistently picks fights with friends after she drinks, damaging relationships?
How about the guy who often forgets to pick up his girlfriend at work because he was “just having a few beers” with friends?
Fortunately, Military Pathways offers a free and anonymous alcohol screening that you can take to see if your drinking habits are consistent with dangerous alcohol use. The screening is available to service members, veterans and their families. If you have questions about the impact of alcohol on your health, work performance or personal relationships, take the screening at www.DrinkingIQ.org.
The screening includes questions about your drinking habits. Once you complete the screening, you receive feedback as to whether your symptoms are consistent with alcohol misuse as well as a list of resources on how and where to get further evaluation and help.
Christine Leccese is the communications and marketing manager at Military Pathways, a Defense Department program.
For more health and wellness resources, please see MilitaryOneClick’s Health and Wellness Page.