Soldiers drink alcohol for many reasons, from hanging out with friends to blowing off steam. But drinking too much, too fast, or too often can damage your health. It can also put your career at risk. Learn how to spot the signs of a drinking problem and what you can do to get it under control.
Understanding What’s At Risk
Soldiers who drink heavily risk their health and readiness. Heavy drinking is defined as having 15 or more drinks per week for men and eight for women.
Over time, heavy drinking can cause liver disease, sexual dysfunction, brain damage, and/or physical addiction. It can also weaken your immune system. A weak immune system makes it harder to fight off everything from common colds to more serious infections.
If you’ve ever felt like you don’t have control over how much you drink, it’s possible you may have a drinking problem. Blacking out often, lying about how much you drink, and not being able to cut back are also warning signs of something more serious. Take this anonymous test to see if you might have a drinking problem.
Getting The Help You Need
The first step to getting help is admitting you have a problem. You can reach out to a trusted family member, friend, or co-worker for support. Or, you may decide to seek professional help. There are many resources available to help Soldiers get their drinking under control:
- Attend an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). AA is a program where people with drinking problems come together to get help. Anyone is welcome to attend and all meetings are anonymous. No one in your unit has to know.
- Search the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find confidential treatment in your area.
- Learn about treatment options for alcohol misuse from the Real Warriors Campaign.
- Locate a behavioral health contact in your state or territory on GuardYourHealth.com.
Managing a drinking problem takes time. It won’t happen overnight. Start by setting limits for yourself and sticking to them. Pace yourself by only having one drink per hour while hanging out with friends at an event.
There are many activities you can do that don’t involve alcohol, such as:
- Staying active by joining a sports league, signing up and training for a race, or planning a hike
- Taking up a new hobby or volunteering for a local non-profit
- Asking a friend to catch a movie or hit the gym
It’s possible you may have a setback that can cause feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or anger. Don’t get discouraged by these feelings. Find what works best for you and continue to move forward, one day at a time.
- Learn more about how drinking can affect your medical readiness.
- Learn the truth about substance use.
- Weigh the pros and cons of drinking with this checklist.