Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Thursday is National Alcohol Screening Day

Assess your drinking risk with this easy test.

The more you drink, the less likely you are to accurately perceive the risks of heavy drinking, according to a survey by Screening for Mental Health (SMH), a Boston-area non-profit group.  The phone survey of 1,000 adults in the U.S. indicated that 7 out of 10 respondents would consult a health care provider if they “thought they might have a problem with alcohol,” but that only 50% of responders with the highest number of at-risk drinking episodes per year said they would seek medical help.

Phone surveys can be notoriously unreliable when it comes to questions about the personal use of drugs and alcohol. However, the point being made here is clear: There are ways to screen high-risk drinkers, who aren’t always the best judge of their own behavior. For National Alcohol Screening Day on Thursday, April 11, SMH offers, where you can take a quick quiz to see how you measure up. More than a thousand community organizations, colleges, and military bases will be taking part. The screening, which is geared toward younger drinkers, is free, anonymous, and online—just the way college students like it. The event, held in April in conjunction with Alcohol Awareness Month, netted more than 40,000 online anonymous screenings last year.

In another finding from the survey, 20% of respondents said that drinking heavily is a “phase many kids go through,” which is certainly true and a suspiciously rare choice in this survey. It’s unlikely that people are eager to approve of young people drinking heavily, even as a “phase.” Nonetheless, we know that kids who begin drinking before age 15 are far more likely to drink alcoholically as adults. And at-risk drinking correlates strongly with age: Most of the mayhem is committed by men under age 35. No surprise there.

“Despite public opinion, at-risk drinking increases your chances of developing alcohol use disorders—such as alcoholism—as well as other physical and mental health problems," said Douglas G. Jacobs, M.D., associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and medical director of SMH, in a prepared statement. “In the U.S., about 18 million people have an alcohol use disorder. The screenings allow individuals to assess their drinking habits and have an opportunity to connect with local support resources.”

And while we are on the subject of, and in the month of, alcohol awareness, here are some earlier posts on ethyl alcohol and you:

7 Myths the Alcohol Industry Wants You to Believe

The Truth About Weight Loss Surgery and Alcohol

Mixing up the Medicine: What Alcohol Doesn’t Go With

Alcoholic Deception

Dude, where’s my metaconsciousness?

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