MENTAL HEALTH ALCOHOL AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE

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1 MENTAL HEALTH ALCOHOL AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE

2 Currently, nearly 14 million Americans 1 in every 13 adults abuse alcohol or are alcoholic. Several million more adults engage in risky drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems. In addition, some studies show approximately 1 in 5 people between ages 16 and 59 say they have taken at least one illicit drug. Alcohol and substance abuse have serious health effects, including: } An increase in risk for certain cancers, especially those of the liver, esophagus, throat, and larynx } Cirrhosis of the liver } Immune system harm } Increased risk of death from automobile crashes and on the-job or at-home accidents } Increased likelihood of violent acts like homicide and suicide Additionally, it is important to understand that even moderate drinking can affect a fetus during pregnancy. 2

3 What is Alcohol and Drug Abuse? Alcohol and drug abuse can be defined as a pattern of drinking or drug use that results in one or more of the following situations in a 12-month period: } Failure to fulfill major work, school, or home responsibilities } Drinking or using drugs in situations that are physically dangerous, such as while driving a car or operating machinery } Having recurring alcohol- or drug-related legal problems, such as being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or for physically hurting someone while drunk or under the influence } Continued drinking despite having ongoing relationship problems that are caused or worsened by drinking or the use of drugs What is Alcoholism and Drug Addiction? Alcoholism and drug addiction, also known as alcohol dependence and drug dependence, respectively, are diseases that include four symptoms: } Craving: A strong need, or compulsion, to drink or use drugs } Loss of control: The inability to limit one s drinking or use of drugs on any given occasion } Physical dependence: Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, when alcohol use or drug use is stopped } Tolerance: The need to use greater amounts of alcohol or drugs to get high 3

4 WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF A PROBLEM? 1 How can you tell whether you may have a drinking or drug problem? Find out by answering the following checklist of questions.???? Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking or drug use? Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking or drug use? Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking or drug use? Have you ever had a drink or used a drug first thing in the morning (as an eye-opener ) to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover? 4

5 One yes answer suggests a possible alcohol or drug problem. If you answered yes to more than one question, it is highly likely that a problem exists. In either case, it is important that you see your doctor or other health care provider right away to discuss your answers to these questions. He or she can help you determine whether you have a drinking or drug problem and, if so, recommend the best course of action. 1 Reprinted with permission from the Wisconsin Medical Journal 94: , Even if you answered no to all of the above questions, if you encounter drinking- or drug-related problems with your job, relationships, health, or the law, you should seek professional help. The effects of alcohol and drug abuse can be serious, even fatal, both to you and others. The Decision to Get Help Accepting the fact that help is needed for an alcohol or drug problem may not be easy. But keep in mind that the sooner you get help, the better your chances for a successful recovery. Once you make your first appointment, your health care professional will discuss with you a plan for continuing help. It is important to stick to your plan and attend any scheduled appointments. 5

6 HELPFUL RESOURCES About Alcoholism/Substance Abuse alcoholism.about.com A comprehensive web site that includes information about alcohol and drug abuse in teens, college students, and adults; community resources; and self-screening quizzes. Alcoholics AnonymousWorld Service Office (AA) aa.org The original 12-step self-help program, with free meetings in nearly every community. Smart Recovery smartrecovery.org A recovery program for individuals who have chosen to abstain, or are considering abstinence from any type of addictive behaviors (substances or activities), by teaching how to change self-defeating thinking, emotions and actions, and to work toward long-term satisfaction and quality of life. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) na.org A self-help group based on the AA model, NA focuses on other drug problems. Al-Anon/Alateen Family Groups al-anon.alateen.org A 12-step program designed for those who have been affected by someone else s alcohol or drug problem based on the AA model. 6

7 Nar-Anon Family Groups nar-anon.org A 12-step program designed to help relatives and friends of addicts recover from the effects of living with an addicted relative or friend. Adult Children of Alcoholics adultchildren.org A self-help group for those who grew up in families with alcoholism. Rational Recovery or rational.org A self-empowerment alternative to AA s spiritual 12-step support groups. National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information samhsa.gov or health.org A federal government service operated by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention for additional information and free literature in English and Spanish. Sources: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (SAMHSA) Contact Tufts Health Plan to learn how to access your mental health and substance abuse benefits. Phone or visit tuftshealthplan.com. 7

8 Mental Health Department tuftshealthplan.com 705 Mount Auburn Street Watertown, MA MH-ALCOHOL-6/14

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