Accepting the fact that help is needed for an alcohol problem is rarely easy. Many affected individuals feel overcome with shame, embarrassment, and anger. Facing one's problem requires a high level of self-awareness, courage, strength, and above all, a clear determination to make positive change. As difficult as it may be, recognizing and dealing with an alcohol related problem as early as possible is essential. The sooner an individual gets help for an alcohol related problem, the better his/her chances are for a successful, long-term recovery.
Often times concerns regarding discussing an alcohol-related problem with one's health care provider may stem from common misconceptions about alcoholism and people with an alcohol-related problem. In our society, the myth prevails that an alcohol problem is a sign of moral weakness. As a result, individuals often feel that to seek help is to admit some type of shameful defect. In fact, alcoholism is a disease that is no more a sign of weakness than is asthma. Moreover, taking steps to identify a possible drinking problem has an enormous payoff-a chance for a healthier, more rewarding life.
When one visits his/her health care provider, he or she will ask a number of questions about the patient's alcohol use to determine whether s/he is having experiencing an alcohol-related problem. Patients should try to answer each question as fully and honestly as possible. The patient might also be given a physical examination. If one's health care provider concludes that the patient may be dependent on alcohol, s/he may recommend that the patient see a specialist in treating substance abuse and dependency. Patients should be involved in any referral decisions, and have the right to have all treatment choices explained thoroughly before an informed decision is made.
It is often much easier for a friend or relative to recognize another's problem with alcohol than it is for the individual to recognize the problem within him/herself. Make yourself a resource so that when the affected individual is ready to make positive change, you will be there ready and willing to support his/her efforts. Learn to gage your friend's signals - make your feelings about your friend's drinking behavior known in a private, non-confrontational manner. However, don't be afraid to be honest and open with your friend about his/her drinking behavior. A true friend is one who will stand up for his/her friend's best interests and not be swayed by a fear of being cruel.
Although it may take many conversations or arguments over a long period of time before your friend is ready to accept his/her problem with alcohol and look to make positive change, do not give up. The best way you can help your friend slowly recognize and overcome an alcohol-related problem is by being a constant reminder of the need for change, and by letting him/her know that when s/he is ready, you will be there to help guide him/her in the right direction. For more information on how to help a friend, or to gain personal support as you struggle with this difficult issue, contact Al-Anon, a national support group for individuals with a friend or family member experiencing an alcohol-related problem. The website for Al-Anon can be found under Links.
The health professionals at the University Health Service are ready and willing to help students affected by an alcohol or drug related problem. UHS also has brochures on alcohol and alcohol related topics, available at the UHS River Campus and Medical Center clinical offices, as well as the UHS Health Promotion Office.
Health Promotion: The UHS Health Educator can provide non-judgmental information and education about alcohol and other drugs, your own personal risk factors, and how to help a friend. Education is available for individuals and/or for campus groups. Students with alcohol or drug concerns can schedule an appointment for BASICS, a one-on-one personal assessment provided in two sessions with our Health Educator. An independent self-assessment can be found on our web site (see Links). Health promotion services are provided FREE of charge!
Clinical Services: Your primary care provider (PCP) is here to help you with medical concerns. Learn how your alcohol or drug use may affect your physical health, including how these substances interact with the medications you're taking. Your primary care provider can also help you quit or cut down on tobacco use. Appointments to UHS are covered by the mandatory health fee, so there is no charge for your visit!
University Counseling Center (UCC): A licensed Substance Abuse Specialist is on the UCC staff to help you with personal concerns related to alcohol and other drug use (either your own use or a friend or family member's use). This may include some initial assessment followed by short-term counseling sessions. Since UCC appointments are covered by the mandatory health fee, there is no charge for their services!
The primary purpose of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), as stated on their website which can be found under Links, is to "stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety". Created in 1935 by a New York stockbroker and Ohio surgeon, both of whom had been considered "hopeless drunks", Alcoholics Anonymous is focused on staying away from alcohol "one day at a time". Alcoholics Anonymous does not encourage swearing off alcohol forever, nor does it worry members about being sober tomorrow. Designed to help individuals suffering from an alcohol-related problem achieve sobriety by progressing through a pre-existent system tied to intense community support, Alcoholics Anonymous is most well known for its "Twelve Steps". A complete list of Alcoholics Anonymous's Twelve Steps can be found in the handbook A Brief Guide to Alcoholics Anonymous, which can be found as a PDF file on the Alcoholics Anonymous website at the bottom left of the main screen once you enter the site.
The primary method by which Alcoholics Anonymous reaches out to individuals suffering from an alcohol-related problem and connects them with other individuals in a similar situation with the purpose of building and maintaining a system of mutual encouragement and support is through community Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. All meetings are confidential, and based around the founding principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. No one is too young or too old to suffer from an alcohol-related problem, and everyone is welcome at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. To access a meeting in the Greater Rochester area check out the Rochester Area Intergroup division of Alcoholics Anonymous listed under Links, or call their 24 hour hotline at 585-232-6720. To access a meeting in a city other than Rochester please click on the link for Alcoholics-Anonymous and click on "Contact Local A.A." which can be found in a yellow box on the top right/center of the screen.
UHS Health Promotion Office (585)273-5772
University Counseling Center (585)275-3113
Office of the Dean of Students (585) 275-4085
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Alcoholics Anonymous Rochester Division (585)232-6720 (24 hours)
Al-Anon/Al-Ateen 1-888-425-2666 (1-888-4AL-ANON)