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UTHSC offers screenings for alcohol problems on National Screening Day, Thursday, April 5 (3-29-01)

Have you or someone you know ever blacked out after a night of drinking, had a drink to calm your nerves or to forget your worries, or tried to cut back on your drinking but realized you couldn’t? If so, you could be one of the nearly 14 million Americans with an alcohol problem.

The Southwest Texas Addictions Research and Treatment (START) Center, part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, is offering free, anonymous screenings for alcohol problems as part of National Alcohol Screening Day, Thursday, April 5. The free screenings will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the START Center, 3939 Medical Drive at Horizon Hill. Call (210) 562-5400 for more information or to set up a screening time.

National Alcohol Screening Day (NASD), held in April as part of Alcohol Awareness Month, is a program of the non-profit Screening for Mental Health Inc. in collaboration with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. Screenings will be held across the country at 2,000 screening sites, including hospitals, alcohol and addiction treatment centers, and colleges.

Participants at the START Center will hear an educational presentation on alcohol problems, complete a written self-test and have the opportunity to talk privately with a health professional. An educational video, pamphlets, brochures and flyers will be available, as well as referrals to local treatment and support resources for those who need further evaluation.

Bankole A. Johnson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the START Center and the Wurzbach Professor in the Health Science Center departments of psychiatry and pharmacology, says, “The program is designed to educate the public about alcohol problems and offer those who may be struggling a way to seek help. Education, awareness and understanding – the kinds of outreach provided by this program – are key factors to reducing alcohol abuse in this country.”

NASD is aimed at the general community and all are invited to attend. Building on the success of last year’s program, NASD 2001 is once again focusing on teaching participants how to recognize if they or a loved one is abusing alcohol and how to get the help they need.

Signs of an alcohol problem

*Drinking to calm nerves, forget worries or boost a sad mood
*Guilt about drinking
*Unsuccessful attempts to cut down or stop drinking
*Lying about or hiding drinking habits
*Causing harm to oneself or someone else as a result of drinking
*Needing to drink increasingly greater amounts in order to achieve desired effect
*Feeling irritable, resentful or unreasonable when not drinking
*Medical, social, family or financial problems caused by drinking

For additional information about alcohol or the screening program, visit www.mentalhealthscreening.org.

Contact: Will Sansom, 567-2570, or Kathryn Dattomo, 562-5410.