As the weather gets warmer and it becomes time for B-B-Q’s, picnics, and Fiesta, I thought it would be a good time to discuss issues about alcohol use and abuse during Alcohol Awareness Month. I am very familiar with this subject and thought that by sharing my experiences, I might bring the issues a little closer to home.
Growing up in New Mexico, my Grandpa was a binge drinker. I remember going with my mom to look for him at the cemetery when he had been drinking. One Sunday afternoon, my aunt went to my grandparents’ home to find him unconscious. She managed to revive him and he was taken to the hospital. It was a very scary time for our family and, thankfully, a scary time for my Grandpa. He never drank again for the rest of his life. He spent the last years of his life enjoying his grandkids and got to see his first great-grandchild. Alcohol shortened his life, but at least he enjoyed his last years.
At least three of my uncles have also had issues with alcohol. It has cost them jobs and relationships. One thankfully quit drinking and has been a joy to be around and has been happily married to my aunt for the last 25+ years.
Answering “Yes” to any of the following questions may mean you have a problem with alcohol.
1) Do you drink alone when you feel angry or sad?
2) Does your drinking ever make you late for work?
3) Does your drinking worry your family?
4) Do you ever drink after telling yourself you won’t?
5) Do you ever forget what you did while drinking?
6) Do you get headaches or have a hangover after drinking?
If you, or someone you care about, can answer “Yes” to any of those questions, here are some ideas that might help.
1) Keep track of your drinking and set a drinking limit. No, a case of beer per weekend is not a reasonable limit.
2) Try to avoid places where heavy drinking occurs. Yes, that may mean staying away from the party.
3) Ask for help from your doctor, family or friends. People who care about you will help you get the assistance you need.
4) If you keep alcohol in your home, keep only a limited supply. A six pack for the week instead of a couple of cases.
The screening questions we ask, year around not only during Alcohol Awareness Month, in our office often raises eyebrows of those who end up with high scores. It is a good opportunity to talk about alcohol and the effects it can have on a person’s health. Some aren’t ready to hear the message, but over time, I hope it can make a difference.