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National Alcohol Screening Day Features Free, Anonymous Screening

By Greg Roa

"My father likes a beer or two in the evening, but was just diagnosed with high blood pressure —will drinking make his hypertension worse?" "I am taking over-the-counter medication for my back pain — does this mean I shouldn't drink?" "Some of my relatives have struggled with alcoholism in the past — are my children at risk of developing alcoholism because of our family history?"

Figuring out the risks associated with alcohol is not always easy, but National Alcohol Screening Day (NASD) on Thursday, Apr. 10 can help. The upcoming event offers free, anonymous screenings at more than 4,000 sites nationwide. NASD is a program of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Screening for Mental Health and their partners.

At screening sites, participants are invited to complete a questionnaire about their alcohol use, and they can talk one-on-one with a health professional. Referrals to treatment facilities can be made when appropriate. Those concerned about the alcohol use of someone close to them can also ask questions about intervention, treatment and support options. Educational materials will be available on a variety of alcohol-related topics, including new NIAAA brochures with advice for people concerned about a family history of alcoholism and alcohol's harmful interactions with medications. A new educational video has also been developed for people attending NASD, and health practitioners at the NASD sites will be able to refer to a new NIAAA publication, Helping Patients with Alcohol Problems — A Health Practioner's Guide.

Screening sites are located at colleges, hospitals, senior centers, malls and other community locations. This year features nearly twice the number of outreach locations as before, including many programs that offer assistance in Spanish. The NIH campus will have several screening sites and times:

Bldg. 10 — First Floor Atrium, C Wing lobby, beside the Cyber Café, 6:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. (Spanish, French and Creole translation is available from noon-1 p.m. and 4-5 p.m.)

Bldg. 31A — Main Lobby (A Wing), 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Bldg. 45 — Main Lobby, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Sign language interpreters will be present at all campus sites, which are open to NIH employees, contractors, visitors, patients and the public.

To locate a free screening site anywhere in the country, call the national NASD locator line at 1-800-405-9200. For information about NIH campus sites, contact Linda Doty at 496-1992 (or via the OP1 Clinic, Bldg. 10, Rm. 1C-254 at 435-4007); or call the Federal Relay at 1-800-877-8339.

"This year's theme is 'Alcohol and your health — Where do you draw the line?'" said NIAAA director Dr. T.K. Li. "NASD helps draw attention to the consequences of at-risk drinking and how alcohol can affect one's general health, especially in regard to specific medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer."

This marks the fifth year of the NASD program, held annually in April as part of National Alcohol Awareness Month. In 2002, nearly 90,000 people participated in NASD events. For more details or to search online for sponsors and sites visit

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