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What do you Really Know about Substance Abuse?

READ ANY NEWSPAPER TODAY, OR WATCH THE TELEVISION
NEWS, AND YOU CAN’T HELP BUT ENCOUNTER WORD OF THE
EVER-DEEPENING PROBLEM OF DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE.



WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT CHEMICAL SUBSTANCES?



How much do you know about the chemical substances used—and
abused—today? Match each brief description listed in column 1 with the
name of the drug in column 2.



But what do you really know
about substance abuse? To find
out how drugs and alcohol can
affect you and the people around
you, answer “true” or “false” to
each of these quiz statements:



1. Most people who abuse drugs
and alcohol are unemployed.
True or False?


2. About four in 10 automobile
accidents involve alcohol abuse.
True or False?


3. An individual’s ability to drive
will be affected for about 30 min-utes
after smoking marijuana.
True or False?


4. Children of parents with alcohol
and drug problems are more
likely than their peers to abuse
drugs and alcohol as they grow
older. True or False?



5. With determination, a person
addicted to drugs or alcohol can
‘kick the habit” on his or her
own. True or False?



6. About 2 percent of North
Americans are dependent on
chemical substances. True or
False?


7. Some people have a genetic
ability to consume large amounts
of alcohol without feeling its
effects. True or False?


8. Smoking and alcohol use during
pregnancy can result in low
birth weight of babies and health
problems early in the life of the
child. True or False?



9. Infants born with fetal alcohol syn-drome
may suffer from cognitive, or
intellectual, impairments. True or False?



10. An individual who has only a few
drinks each week cannot be an alcoholic.
True or False?



11. Children often use drugs for the first
time in the home. True or False?


12. Counseling is the only effective
treatment for people with substance
abuse problems. True or False?


13. Under the United States’ Americans
With Disabilities Act, an employee who
repeatedly works while in an intoxicated
state is protected against dismissal.
True or False?


14. A person who drinks while eating a
meal will show fewer signs of intoxication
than a person who drinks on an
empty stomach. True or False?


15. Heavy alcohol use can lead to high
blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and
diabetes. True or False?


16. Drug abuse is very limited among
people over the age of 30. True or False?



17. Binge drinking is a sure sign of alcoholism.
True or False?



18. Young people who use steroids may
find their long-term growth stunted.
True or False?



19. Mixed drinks are less potent than
“straight” drinks. True or False?


20. It’s hard to spot substance abusers,
since they generally use drugs and alcohol
at home. True or False?



The Answers


[Editor’s Note: The answers follow.
When publishing this article, you may
wish to place answers on the following
page.]



1. False. Substance abuse is not bounded
by the workplace, and is prevalent in
every occupation and profession.


2. True.


3. False. Marijuana use can affect an
individuals driving ability for five to seven
hours—or more.


4. True. Some scientists suggest that a
genetic predisposition toward substance
abuse may run in families.


5. False. Most people with addictions
require the help of a professional and the
support of friends to “kick the habit.”


6. False. More typically, estimates peg
the figure in the range of 8 percent to 10
percent.
8. True. Pregnant women should avoid
tobacco and alcohol products during
pregnancy.


9. True.


10. False. People who depend on alcohol,
or whose ability to function in daily
life is impaired by alcoholism, suffer
from the disease. Some people could
consume only a handful of drinks in a
given week, and still suffer from alcoholism.


11. True. Many children experiment
with glue and other inhalants found in
the home, as well as pills, alcohol and
tobacco products.


12. False. A variety of treatments, ranging
from group therapy to medications,
are successfully used today.


13. False. An employer usually can’t dismiss
an employee simply for suffering
from alcoholism, or for obtaining treatment.


But the law will generally not protect an employee who drinks repeatedly,
fails to perform on the job, and refuses
treatment.


14. True.


15. True. Scientists are accumulating
more evidence of the debilitating long-term
effects of heavy alcohol use all the
time.



16. False. Drug abuse is prevalent
among every age group.


17. False. Binge drinking, particularly
common among young people, is a serious
abuse of alcohol. It’s been associated
with fatal accidents. Some, but not all,
binge drinkers will develop long-term
problems with alcohol.


18. True. Steroid use has also been
linked to heart damage.


19. False. An ounce of alcohol is just as
potent “straight” as it is mixed with
another beverage.



20. False. Substance abusers may ingest
drugs or alcohol in their vehicles, at
work and even in public places.



WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU SPOT DRUG OR ALCOHOL ABUSE




Drug and alcohol abuse can break up families,
damage friendships, diminish productivity work, and even lead to serious illness or death.



Everyone pays for these problems. By some accounts, every man, woman and child in the United States and Canada pays $400 to $500 a year in added product costs and health care premiums to underwrite lost productivity and treatment of substance abusers.




Do you know how to recognize the signs of substance
abuse in friends and co-workers? What common-sense steps should you take if you suspect somone you know is abusing drugs or alcohol? Begin with these suggestions:





Remember that help may begin with you.
Many substance abusers don’t believe they have a problem. Whatever they believe, most people
with drug and alcohol problems will not seek out help entirely on their own.
You could literally be the lifeline for someone in this position.




Don’t be afraid to be intolerant. In today’s world, we’re expected to be tolerant of a wide
variety of behaviors. But when it comes to drugs and alcohol, intolerance may motivate a
substance abuser to begin dealing with the problem.



Notice drug paraphernalia around you. Notice
the tell-tale signs: discarded bottles of alcohol waste paper baskets, rolling paper, needles, chronic money shortages, pill bottles. These may be evidence of a substance abuse problem.




Observe the physical signs of substance
abuse. These might include wide fluctuations in
weight, slurring of speech, dilated pupils, seemingly
erratic changes in personality or physical
coordination problems.




Quietly tell someone. It could be a mutual friend, a family member or a supervisor. Simply
mention that you’ve observed unusual, and perhaps
troubling, behavior. Make no judgments
and draw no conclusions. You’re not a substance
abuse counselor and should not attempt to solve
the problem on your own. In fact, if you do
become directly involved, you may unwittingly
perpetuate the problem, say substance abuse
professionals.



Encourage coworkers to use employee assistance programs. Here’s one possible exception
to the don’t-become-involved rule. If your company or industry offers an employee assistance
program, don’t hesitate to suggest that a cowork-er make an appointment.



Don’t risk emergencies. While you shouldn’t
attempt to counsel the individual yourself,
don’t—under any circumstances—let him drive,
operate machinery or perform any other potentially dangerous task when he doesn’t seem to
be physically or emotionally up to par.



Help prevent substance abuse. Get involved
in a committee or task force at work, your church
or synagogue, or in your community. Your volunteer efforts may help prevent people of all ages from abusing drugs or alcohol in the future.



Set a positive personal example. By avoiding
dependence on chemical substances—and
warning others of their dangers—you become a
role model for the people around you.







About the Author

Richard Ensman is a syndicated free-lance
writer based in Rochester, N.Y.

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