Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
Alcohol use… or is it abuse?
How much is too much… and how would you know?
On average, females should have no more than one drink per day, and males no more than two drinks. However, deciding whether you are drinking “too much” is more than just a “numbers game.” It’s sometimes just a “feeling” that people have. “Some people will tell us that they knew alcohol was a problem when they just felt sick of it… sick of not feeling good, wanting to drink at work, tired of hearing a spouse or family members complain about their drinking, and tired of getting the shakes,” said Dr. Randall Rogers, Psychologist and Team Leader of the Addictions Treatment Program. They knew then that it was time to seek some help.
Risky drinking doesn’t just happen overnight. There are many different risk factors for drinking. Some of these can include:
- Recent discharge from the military;
- History of chronic exposure to alcohol;
- Social and family circumstances or life events;
- Any disruption in routine.
This disruption doesn’t have to be something “bad” – it could be something good – like retirement. Dr. Rogers is a firm believer that while stress may contribute to alcohol use, it does not cause alcohol use. He brings up an interesting point about deployment to support his assertion. He notes that during deployment, most soldiers don’t use alcohol because they have other responsibilities and have limited access to alcohol. However, they may use upon discharge and return home – when they have fewer barriers to alcohol use and increased access to alcohol. Which situation is more stressful? Deployment or returning home? He suggests that if one is worried that alcohol use is becoming problematic, one should monitor alcohol use by writing down the specific frequency and amount of alcohol use, and even limit access to alcohol, i.e., don’t keep it in the house, take a different route home to avoid the local bar, find friends who do not drink. If you do decide to give up alcohol entirely, be prepared to find something else to do with your time.
“A big part of quitting IS avoiding it… but an even bigger part is figuring out what you are going to do INSTEAD,” said Dr. Rogers. Many people know they have a problem and need help in quitting drinking… others need help in figuring out if they might have a problem with alcohol. No matter which category you fit into, the Behavioral Health Service at Truman VA can help. Call them at (573) 814-6486 to talk about the options available to you!
Brought to you by the Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program