April 17, 2014

Help available for alcohol, drug abuse

We know all too well that alcohol consumption and drug use can imperil our jobs.

But how about off the job; and how about family members?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports more than 600,000 emergency room visits annually due to alcohol or drug problems; and that count represents but one-third of all misuse of alcohol or drugs.

In the long term, alcohol abuse can lead to:

  • Liver, heart and brain damage; and severe over indulgence of alcohol can induce dementia or other mental illness.
  • Bad judgment, poor coordination, blackouts, loss of memory, nausea, hangovers, headaches, coma and suicide.
  • Birth defects, including learning disabilities. That is why pregnant women are warned not to consume alcohol during pregnancies.

Be aware that 40 percent of alcoholism is related to genetics and is inherited.

Note the warning signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse:

  • Craving alcohol
  • Drinking alone
  • Inability to reduce or stop drinking
  • Hiding alcohol in secret places
  • Violent episodes or becoming angry when confronted about drinking habits
  • Sleeping for long periods of time
  • Feeling anxious in social situations and experiencing feelings of guilt
  • Poor eating habits

You and/or your family members can get help in treating alcohol and drug abuse.

United Behavioral Health offers 24-hour confidential telephone counseling at (866) 850-6212, and the website www.liveandworkwell.com can provide you with more information on alcohol and drug abuse.

And keep in mind that those in safety sensitive transportation jobs face a good likelihood of being randomly tested for alcohol and drug use:

The U.S. Department of Transportation set the following test rates for 2011:

  • For bus drivers, the random drug testing rate is 50 percent; and the random alcohol testing rate is 10 percent.
  • For airline workers, the random drug testing rate is 25 percent; and the random alcohol testing rate is 10 percent.
  • For rail workers, the random drug testing rate is 25 percent; and the random alcohol testing rate is 10 percent.
  • For transit workers, the random drug testing rate is 25 percent; and the random alcohol testing rate is 10 percent.