HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM?

1. Have you ever felt the need to CUT down on your drinking?
2. Have people ever ANNOYED you by criticizing your drinking?
3. Have you ever felt GUILTY about your drinking?
4. Have you ever taken a morning EYE-opener to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?

The above CAGE screening questionnaire is one of many tools created to help you and your medical provider determine if you have an alcohol problem. Two or more affirmative answers to the above questionnaire may indicate a problem with alcohol. Any single affirmative answer deserves further evaluation. (Mayfield D, et al)

College is a time of life when alcohol plays a part in many social situations. It is well known that college freshmen are at a statistically higher risk for alcohol-related problems than other college levels. Students who live away from home for the first time, live in dorms, or join fraternities or sororities often add to this risk. Some of the problems resulting from excessive drinking include alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents and falls, STDs, assaults, rape-by-intoxication, poor grades and failed relationships. Other risk factors for alcohol-related problems may include a family history of alcoholism, other substance abuse history, cultural factors or a personal history of emotional or psychiatric disorders.

In our student health clinic we have encountered students with a variety of alcohol-related medical and mental-health problems such as irritated stomach or esophagus related to excessive alcohol ingestion and/or vomiting, bruises and sprains that the student can’t explain, STDs due to unwanted sexual experiences as well as anxiety or depressive symptoms which result in missed classes and poor grades.

When Medical Providers evaluate a student with symptoms related to excessive drinking, we will take a careful history and conduct a physical exam. We will ask you about your drinking history and problems you’ve encountered with your drinking. It may be necessary to do blood or other lab tests, depending on your medical health status.

We will discuss our findings with you and work with you to make suggestions and generate a plan for getting you the help you deserve for any alcohol or other substance-abuse issues you have. We have Counselors who can help you discuss your issues and assist you in developing a behavior change program to fit your individual needs. We have a Health Educator who can suggest on-line self-assessment tools and outside resources. We also have a staff Psychiatrist available if necessary.

We understand the pressure and stress our students face in college, particularly during the current economic recession. Student Health and Counseling Service is committed to supporting your educational goals by providing medical and counseling services that are aligned with your individual needs and circumstances.

If you are concerned about your drinking habits and want more insight and support, please call us for an appointment: (760) 750-4915. We look forward to talking with you.

You may also check out “College Drinking-Changing the Culture” on-line resources to help you make healthier choices, Alcohol Screening which provides online self-assessment, or visit SHCS website and scroll down to Alcohol and Substance Abuse section for more health links and information.

Mayfield D, McLead G, Hall P. The CAGE Questionnaire. Am J. Psychiatry 1974: 131:1121.

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