Approximately 14 million Americans have alcohol disorders. As prevalent as the disorder is, much can be done to assist those who are dependent on alcohol, and their loved ones.
In 1999, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration partnered to create a community-based intervention to target alcohol abuse: National Alcohol Screening Day (NASD). Screening is held annually on the first Thursday of the first full week of April. For 2016, screening will be held on April 7. NASD’s objectives include:
- Educating the public on the effect of alcohol on overall health
- Administering anonymous, free alcohol screenings to the public
- Providing referrals for those whose screening determined their drinking is at an unhealthy level
Thousands of organizations nationwide offer either on-site and online screenings to college students, military personnel, and the general public. Each organization receives the appropriate resources to help them conduct the program, such as videos, posters, educational handouts, and screening forms. On the day of screening, a 10-question screening scale is administered that was developed to identify those who consume alcohol at hazardous or harmful levels. Those who score above a specified cut-off score are referred for further evaluation or treatment.
Those interested can get started by visiting the website, How Do You Score? There they can take an anonymous self-assessment or search for on-site screening locations, which are located in screening centers across the United States. Those who are screened will be asked a series of questions to determine whether symptoms of alcohol abuse are present and whether medical help is required. At the end of the session, they receive immediate feedback and will be provided resources to assist them in getting the help they need.
At-risk drinking can be identified based on how much a person drinks on any given day, and how often a person has a heavy drinking day. In general, the following limits identify at-risk drinking:
- Men: More than 4 drinks in a day or 14 per week
- Women: More than 3 drinks in a day or 7 per week
As with any illness, early detection is the key to increasing chances of swift recovery. Alcohol abuse is misunderstood and is, therefore, often not considered a legitimate disorder that can be treated. National recognition goes a long way toward educating the public and reducing the negative effects of alcohol abuse for those affected and their families.
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