Tripler Army Medical Center
HONOLULU — According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers have found that 9 in 10 people who drink excessively are not alcohol dependent. However, it is still crucial for people to take a closer look at their drinking habits and the effects of alcohol.
Alcohol dependence is the inability to quit drinking alcohol. Alcohol dependence is a serious medical problem, and it is important to assure that high-quality treatment is made available to those who need it.
The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence has sponsored the month of April to be an awareness month. The NCDD wants to increase awareness and understanding of the effects and treatment of alcoholism and alcohol dependence.
Alcoholism is an addiction to the consumption of alcoholic liquor and the resulting compulsive behavior.
Ethanol is the intoxicating part of alcohol, and it interferes with the nerves that pass messages around the body. This interference causes a person to have less control over their coordination, reaction time, vision and judgment, such as identifying dangerous situations that could hamper driving capabilities.
Unlike carbohydrates and proteins, the human body doesn’t have a way to store alcohol, so the body will quickly metabolize the alcohol in your liver, which requires water to effectively detoxify and remove the alcohol from the blood, so that an individual does not become dehydrated.
Severe dehydration is a large factor in why many suffer from a headache or a hangover. Continuous heavy drinking over a period of time can strain or upset the way alcohol is metabolized and cause liver damage.
“A majority of the patients seen in the AMIOP (Addictive Medicine Intensive Outpatient Program) have not reached severe liver damage, but it is important that we stop their addiction before it gets to that point,” said Jay Donovan, the clinical director of the AMIOP at Tripler Army Medical Center.
Seeking social acceptance
Donovan stated that many new Soldiers tend to drink with their fellow Soldiers to avoid social isolation. Having alcoholic beverages while hanging around friends may inflict the idea that it is socially unacceptable to not drink.
Donovan explained that there is a perception that a majority of men and woman in the military suffer from alcohol dependence, when in fact it is the complete opposite. Donovan recommends Soldiers to identify the specific reasons why they decide to drink alcohol, because it will help determine if he or she abuses alcohol.
The AMIOP at TAMC offers an intense outpatient program for patients who are command-referred and self-referred for an alcohol use disorder, or dependence. The program is confidential and educates patients, provides individual counseling, group counseling, yoga and stress relief classes. The AMIOP also introduces patients to other men and women in the community who live a clean and sober life.
“Don’t let alcohol control your life,” said Donovan.
If you believe that you have a drinking problem or need help cutting back, talk to you doctor about getting professional help to reduce your alcohol intake. The AMIOP at Tripler Army Medical Center accepts self-referrals and can be contacted at 808-433-6098.
Take a minute to help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV:
- Remember the ABCs: Abstain, Be faithful and use Condoms.
- Pay attention to your body. If you notice a discharge, sore or other problems, make an appointment to get checked. Note, however, that not all STDs have symptoms.
- Know your status. Make an appointment to get tested and encourage your partner(s) to get tested.