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Published: Spring, 2004; Vol 6, Num 2

 

April is Alcohol Awareness Month:

Alcohol Abuse, Dependence Plague Some Laborers

Alcohol is a danger at highway work zones across North America and not only because drunk drivers ignore warnings and crash into workers.

Occasionally, the danger arrives with workers, themselves, who come to work impaired, endangering their own lives and those of their co-workers. Most commonly, however, alcohol is an off-the-job problem for Laborers, and it takes its toll steadily through years of misuse.

HELP RESOURCES

  • LHSFNA Health Promotion Divison
    202-628-5465
  • Alcoholism & Drug Dependency Hopeline
    800-475-HOPE
  • Alcohol Treatment Referral Line
    800-252-6465
  • CSAT Drug Information, Treatment & Referral Hotline
    800-622-HELP or 800-66-AYUDA (Spanish)
  • How to Cut Down Your Drinking
  • Call the Member Assistance Program (MAP) of your local Health & Welfare Fund

Alcoholism - also known as alcohol dependence - is a disease. Its symptoms are craving, loss of control, physical dependence and tolerance. People with this disease suffer withdrawal symptoms - nausea, sweating, shakiness and anxiety - if they can't get a drink. Also, as with other addictions, the dependent person usually needs to increase consumption in order to keep getting "high."

Another danger is alcohol abuse. Some people may not have alcoholism, but they still abuse alcohol. They drink in a way that seriously interferes with their ability to manage their personal life and other responsibilities. Missing work, ignoring problems at home, drinking in situations that are physically dangerous (at work or while driving a car) or getting arrested for drunken behavior are all examples of alcohol abuse.

"April is Alcohol Awareness Month," says LHSFNA Health Promotion Division Behavioral Health Care Coordinator Jamie Becker, "and provides a useful opportunity to address concerns about alcohol and Laborers. We know that the construction industry ranks highest in heavy alcohol use among its workforce so, inevitably, drinking is a serious problem for some Laborers. That's why we address the issue, not just during Alcohol Awareness Month but year round."

The Fund urges members or their dependents who have a concern about alcohol to contact their Member Assistance Program (MAP) or one of the other listed resources. Help and treatment depends on the nature of the individual's problem, but early identification and care improve the chances for a successful recovery.

[Steve Clark]