News: Fighting Addiction: National Drug, Alcohol Recovery Month emphasizes education, treatment
Story by Christine Cabalo
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - Think of a dozen friends, coworkers and family members.
Statistically, at least one person in every group of 12 people battled alcohol or drug addiction in 2012, according the latest results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
The need for treatment recently prompted President Barrack Obama and 73 other government leaders in North America to declare September as National Alcohol and Drug Recovery Month. Despite the recognition of the health issue, not everyone who needs assistance seeks it out.
“There’s still a stigma that comes with going to see a counselor for any problem, period,” said Jody Johnson, lead counselor at the Substance Abuse Counseling Center. “It’s not just us, but within the mental health area. It can be difficult to ask for help. We always say we have it in us to take care of it ourselves.”
The center offers aid in preventing substance abuse and regular counseling for active-duty service members and civilian family members. Johnson said her office provides individualized care for every person who walks in for help.
This month the center spoke with 85 clients, said Alton Arakaki, program manger of the SACC. Arakaki said this includes both those seeking help in recovery of alcoholism and drug addiction as well as those taking classes about the lasting impacts of a substance abuse problem.
Whether a client comes on their own or is referred to the center by their unit, Arakaki said they can see any of the center’s counselors for assistance. Each counselor offers an assessment for a client, determining what type of help is needed. He and Johnson said some go through individual recovery care rather than group meetings. Their office also offers other base resources, such as referrals for loved ones of substance abusers or to a group of Alcoholics Anonymous that meets weekly at the Chaplain Joseph W. Estabrook Chapel.
“The biggest challenge we see is relapse, going back to drinking or abusing,” Arakaki said. “Relapse happens well before someone puts the drink to the mouth. They stop doing what they are supposed to be doing: going to AA meetings or hanging around with people they used to drink or use with before.”
When she speaks with people who are addicted, Johnson said the alcoholism or drug use happens because of related health factors. She’s seen in her clients how other mental health disorders, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, may spur abuse.
“Many times (substance and alcohol abuse) can be because of family issues and health concerns that impact why they’re drinking in the first place,” she said. “Some try to self-medicate because of it, so we instead try to create a support network that addresses not just the substance abuse.”
The center also tries to reach those in danger of addiction, hosting classes monthly and by unit request. The “Prime for Life” classes are a new format for the center and started last summer. The class activities are run by Jonathan Barkley, the center’s alcohol abuse prevention specialist and Quentin Redmon, the center’s drug demand reduction coordinator. So far, 169 active-duty service members have taken the class since August 2012.
Barkley said he encourages people to seek out healthy activities all year rather than take the risks of alcohol or drug abuse. Although the center provides referrals for those healthy activities and full care for clients, Barkley said those who need help should seek out whatever resources they can to get it.
“Whether or not you choose the base SACC services, please get help somewhere,” he said. “Help is nearby online, through telephone hotlines, local churches and counseling centers and support groups such as AA, Narcotics Anonymous and Sex Addicts Anonymous.”
The Substance Abuse Counseling Center is located on the third floor of building 279. To learn more, call 257-3900 or see their website at http://mccshawaii.com/substanceabuse.
This work, Fighting Addiction: National Drug, Alcohol Recovery Month emphasizes education, treatment, by Christine Cabalo, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.