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TRICARE Offers Resources, Treatment for Alcohol Abuse

TRIWEST -- Don't Be 'That Guy'
As part of a proactive outreach campaign, the Department of Defense launched "That Guy," a multimedia campaign with the goal of reducing excessive drinking among Service men and women, with a campaign reminder, "Don't be 'that guy' (or gal)!"

Although "that guy" is the butt of many jokes, the affects of alcohol--particularly prolonged abuse--can have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of servicemembers and those who love them.

In fact, more than 16,000 active duty servicemembers volunteered to complete a Pentagon survey with results released earlier this year, showing that 44.5 percent of respondents participated in "binge drinking," up from 41.8 percent in 2002.

Results also indicate higher rates of heavy alcohol, cigarette and illicit drug use among those deployed from 2002 to 2005 than those who did not deploy. The survey was the ninth in a series of similar surveys administered by the Pentagon about health-related behaviors of active duty military.

"Alcohol abuse is common among servicemembers returning from combat duty who try to self-medicate in hopes of relieving such symptoms as difficulty sleeping, irritability or anxiety - all common side effects of combat stress. But if left untreated, their problems can get significantly worse," cautions Dr. Blake Chaffee, vice president of Integrated Health Care Services for TriWest Healthcare Alliance. TriWest manages access to TRICARE services and providers throughout TRICARE's 21-state West Region.

Help is Always Available
Regardless of the reason for alcohol abuse, help is always available. TRICARE-eligible servicemembers and their dependents are eligible to receive care at Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) and TRICARE-network behavioral health providers. In fact, eligible family members may attend up to eight behavioral health outpatient visits each fiscal year (October 1 - September 30) without a referral.

A printable brochure with an overview of TRICARE-covered behavioral health care benefits and treatment options is available online at www.triwest.com. Select "Beneficiary Services" then click on "Handbooks, Brochures and Flyers," and select TRICARE Behavioral Health Care Services from the drop-down menu.

TriWest also offers a Behavioral Health Portal at www.triwest.com, with an interactive map of resources by state, a variety of self-help options and answers to frequently asked questions. To access the portal from www.triwest.com, select "Behavioral Health" from the left navigation menu.

TriWest's Behavioral Health Crisis Line is also staffed by clinicians 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1-866-284-3743. Family members are invited to use these resources as well if they feel there might be a problem. But, remember, if there is an emergency, always call 911.

Other resources:
· TRICARE (www.tricare.mil
· Military OneSource (www.militaryonesource.com
· National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (www.ncadd.org
· U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (ncadi.samhsa.gov)