(Photo Credit: rogue3w)
Over the last several years, as Chris and I have worked together on TFA’s National Mental Health Team, we have fielded a number of questions related to alcohol and substance use in the corps. These questions generally center around: what is the difference between being a low-risk social drinker or a high-risk drinker? After all, not all drinking is bad. One of the biggest challenges in dealing with concerns related to alcohol is determining whether or not a problem exists.
Let’s start by looking at the difference between low-risk drinkers and high-risk drinkers.
Signs that you may be a low-risk drinker:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends:
o Women have one drink per day or seven in a week.
o Men have no more than two drinks per day or fourteen in a week.
All of the above recommendations are based on standardized definitions, where one drink equals:
o 12 oz. of regular beer
o 5 oz. of wine
o 1.5 oz. (a shot) of 80 proof liquor.
Signs that you may be a high-risk drinker:
o Are you finding that during the weekends you often binge drink at a party and spend half the weekend trying to recover?
o Have you started to rely on a few beers at night in order to calm your nerves?
o Do you ever find yourself driving after having a bit too much to drink?
How can you know whether you are a low risk social drinker or possibly a high risk drinker?
o First, it helps to know the real number of “drinks” you consume. Want to know how many “drinks” are in that cosmo or screwdriver? You can use the drink calculator to find out.
o If you are unsure how your alcohol consumption stacks up, this tool from the NIAAA helps you size up your level of risk based on your alcohol consumption habits. Plug in how much you drink and how often, and it can help you determine whether your drinking pattern is no risk, low risk, increased risk or highest risk.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know might have a serious problem with alcohol:
o Check out the following guidelines on what qualifies as alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence: http://www.wright.edu/rsp/Security/Eap/Alcohol.htm. If these guidelines apply to you or someone you know, you might consider reaching out to a counselor or making use of AA resources within your region.
Tune in next week for “Your Relationship with Alcohol Part 2: Self-Care.” In this post we will discuss sustainable ways to incorporate positive coping habits into your routine to avoid feeling the need to rely on maladaptive coping, such as excessive alcohol consumption.