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Mental struggles often go hand-in-hand with alcohol abuse

  • Published
  • By Capt. Zoe Colgan
  • 88th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is also devoting attention to the dangers of alcohol abuse this month.

With summertime drawing near, important life changes could be on the way for many Airmen and military families, including end of the school year, a permanent change of station, transitioning to a college or making other critical social changes. According to SAMHSA’s survey on drug use and health, full-time students and adolescents often start using substances for the first time in June or July.

May is considered a very important month to refocus our attention on prevention. We cannot prevent every single situation in life. However, based on our experience and data, we can prepare for the anticipated changes and challenges they could bring.

Benjamin Franklin once said: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This is another reason why it would be necessary to reflect on what one anticipates from life, and plan on how one can manage life’s stressful events.

Stress can also be caused by feeling stuck, lonely or bored among other things that cause emotional suffering. At times, chronic stress may lead to a mental health condition or alcohol abuse.

Alcohol is the most accessible and legal anesthetic. While there are some benefits to responsible consumption, problematic alcohol abuse can be dangerous and contribute to DUIs, alcohol-related incidents, domestic violence, underage drinking, and even injuries or death, among other difficulties.

At times, mental struggles go hand-in-hand with alcohol abuse. Knowing the dangers, we can take some steps to prevent problematic alcohol use, increase stress tolerance and improve well-being.

Some ways to cope with life include acceptance of situations you cannot leave or change; finding something to look forward to, such as a hobby; reaching out to people, engaging with others in a social setting or learning a new skill. Awareness, prevention and change starts with us. If you wish to see more positivity, peace, and hope in the world, then you can start with yourself.

As one of my favorite peaceful leaders, Mahatma Gandhi, stated: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”