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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – Positive Steps For Your #MentalHealth

Treatment options for substance use concerns

Many studies have shown a relationship, at times, between alcohol use and suicidal thoughts and/or #suicide attempts.

Sometimes people wonder, “When is alcohol a problem?” Common signs that may suggest further consideration include:

  • Drinking more or for longer than you intended.
  • Family members or friends voice concerns about your drinking or drinking that interferes with activities.
  • Being unable to reduce your drinking or stop drinking entirely.

We are currently experiencing a time marked for many people by higher #stress and more difficult life circumstances. Also, relationship separation or problems, financial challenges and general uncertainty. Here are five things you can consider to improve your health:

Take a self-assessment for at-risk alcohol use

Information and resources are available about substance use, including alcohol. If you are worried about your use of alcohol, take an anonymous and confidential self-assessment. Share the results with your #healthcareprovider so you can discuss care and treatment options.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

Access treatment services

VA offers treatment options for substance use concerns that range from alcohol use impacting your health to life-threatening addictions.

  • Start a conversation with your primary care provider about your overall health. Also, discuss how changes in your alcohol use may help your health in different areas, such as sleep and diabetes management.
  • Locate a substance use disorder (SUD) program or a local recovery coordinator (LRC) at your #VA medical center. Each #VA medical center offers SUD programs or treatments and has LRCs who develop recovery-focused programs for #Veterans.
  • To search for SUD treatment outside of VA, the Substance Abuse and #MentalHealthServices Administration offers 24/7 free, confidential help with treatment referral and information services for individuals and families facing #mentalhealth or substance use disorders. Call 800-662-4357.

Access #VA #mentalhealthservices

#Mentalhealthconditions may contribute to use of alcohol and/or other substances. Conditions include depression, #posttraumaticstressdisorder (#PTSD) and military sexual trauma. #VA offers #mentalhealthservices for #Veterans. Below are a few resources for accessing #mentalhealthservices:

  • Find the nearest VA medical center to make an appointment and see a #healthcareprovider.
  • Vet Centers provide combat #Veterans and their families with a broad range of counseling, outreach and referral services. These include individual and group counseling for alcohol and drug misuse, #PTSD, #suiciderisk and more. Call 877-WAR-VETS (877-927-8387) to access these free and confidential services.

Think about firearm safety

70% of #Veteran deaths by #suicide involve a firearm. Use of alcohol or other substances may be a way of coping with distress and in times of crisis. People may act impulsively. Consider additional safe storage practices, such as keeping firearms locked, unloaded and stored separately from ammunition to help create a safer environment. Safe storage also protects all members of the household, including children, from accident and injury. Download and read this brochure on reducing firearm safety risks.

Create a safety plan

Work with your #healthcareprovider to create a safety plan to reduce or stop your drinking and continue your journey to recovery. Having a plan in place and sharing it with a loved one can also help guide you through difficult moments and help prevent a crisis.

You are not alone

You are not alone in your path to wellness and recovery. Visit MakeTheConnection.net to view other #Veterans’ candid descriptions of life with problems due to alcohol use and what they did to get started on their road to recovery. Make time to seek out the support you need. Call a helpline, join a support group or get individual counseling.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of #suicide, contact the #Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.


Matthew Miller, Ph.D., MPH, is the director of VA’s #SuicidePrevention Program, Office of #MentalHealthandSuicidePrevention.

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