Tahlequah Daily Press


April 10, 2014

Alcohol screening can be critical

TAHLEQUAH — It has been decades since Prohibition brought Americans gangsters, flappers and speakeasies, but statistics for alcohol addiction are staggering.

Millions of Americans suffer from alcohol addiction and abuse, which affects families and friends.

Today, April 10, is the annual National Alcohol Screening Day, and raising awareness through education, outreach and screening programs is the goal, according to the website at www.mentalhealthscreening.org. Statistics on the site indicate 25 percent of U.S. children are exposed to alcohol abuse or dependence in the family, and it’s more common for males to suffer alcohol abuse and dependence than females.

The statistics also indicate cultural prevalence, between 2001 and 2002, was highest among Native Americans (5.75 percent), followed by whites (5.10 percent), blacks (3.29 percent), Hispanics (3.9 percent), and Asians (2.13 percent). It also shows 8.5 percent of adult Americans –17.6 million – met diagnostic criteria for either alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse.

The Cherokee County Health Department does not provide screening, but refers clients to NeoHealth.

Kathy Ritchie, nurse practitioner with NeoHealth, said that at their clinics, when they ask a client about alcohol or drug use, they will ask how many drinks a person may have daily.

“We use CAGE a substance abuse screening tool,” said Ritchie. “These are questions people can ask themselves or their loved ones, in a non-judgmental way.”

Four questions asked are:

1. Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?

2. Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?

3. Have you ever felt bad or guilty about drinking?

4. Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?

“Scoring is zero for no and 1 for any ‘yes,’” said Ritchie. “A score of 2 or more is considered clinically significant, and we would counsel them for what seemed appropriate, like referring them into group meetings such as Alcoholic Anonymous or for counseling.”

Anyone using drugs or alcohol daily is screened for addiction.

“If people have a concern, they can go to our clinics Hulbert, Westville, Tahlequah and Muskogee,” Ritchie said.

The millions of Americans who struggle with alcohol addiction also impact their families, workplaces, neighbors and communities. Prevention is preferred, but those seeking help can find online screenings and referrals, as well as local treatment opportunities.

Held annually on Thursday of the first full week of April, NASD’s goal is to help inform the public about alcohol misuse and refer people with alcohol problems for further treatment. A website offers four distinct sites where people can take an anonymous and confidential screening, attend webinars and promote wellness in their community for colleges and universities, military, businesses and community-based organizations.

Untreated mental illness costs American companies more than $170 billion every year in lost workdays, reduced productivity, and direct health care costs, states the fact sheet at www.mentalhealthscreening.org.

The WorkplaceResponse alcohol screening program can be available through human resources and is designed to educate employees about mental health and available resources. Online screening offers immediate screening feedback, or employees can provide a customized referral and be downloaded to take to a health care provider. The site also provides links to relevant mental health information and resources.

For college students, the emphasis is on the increasing number of students at risk or putting others at risk by excessive or binge drinking. Drinking driving, assault and illness are some of the problems for college students.

Nearly 700,000 students between ages 18 and 24 are assaulted each year by another student who has been drinking, the website statistics report, and 1,700 college students between ages 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.

In 2002, 64 percent of full-time college students 18-22, said they’d had at least one alcoholic drink in the past 30 days, while more than 44 percent of full-time college students reported consuming five or more drinks the same night at least once in the past 30 days.

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Do you think "blue laws" related to Sunday alcohol sales in Oklahoma should be relaxed? Choose the option that most closely reflects your opinion.

Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars, and liquor stores should be open.
Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars only; liquor stores should stay closed.
Liquor stores should be open Sundays, but drinks should not be served anywhere on Sundays.
The law should remain as it is now; liquor stores should be closed, and drinks should be served on Sundays according to county option.
No alcohol should be sold or served publicly on Sundays.
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