TRICARE and You: Self referrals for substance abuse

This blog is the most recent in a series helping members of the Coast Guard family understand how to use their TRICARE benefits. The blog series will continue every Monday, right here on Coast Guard All Hands.

Written by Chief Warrant Officer Jerry Tucker, substance abuse program supervisor

Do you like to have a good time? Does that usually involve alcohol? Is it starting to cause problems for you? Dealing with alcohol problems can be difficult and many times, negative consequences can impact the whole family. We have learned a lot over the past decades on how to best help people struggling with ways to moderate their drinking and wanted to share a little about how to recognize you may need help and where to get it.

How do I know if I have a problem with alcohol consumption?

If you use alcohol as a means to cope with daily stressors or to alter your mood, you could be displaying signs of an alcohol use disorder. The signs can be subtle and difficult to detect at times. Some key factors associated with problematic drinking are:

  • Guilt or shame associated with drinking
  • Dishonest to others about your drinking habits
  • Feel a need to drink in order to relax or feel better
  • “Black-out” or forget what you did while drinking
  • Regularly drink more than you originally intended to

 

Common signs of an alcohol use disorder include:

  • Regularly neglect your responsibilities at home and work
  • Use alcohol in situations that cause danger or negative consequences (drinking and driving, using machinery while drinking, mixing alcohol with prescription medication)
  • Continuing to drink after alcohol has caused problems with your home and work relationships
  • You are unable to quit drinking if you want to

 

If you, your spouse or your dependent children are in need of treatment, there are a variety of ways to get help. The types of treatment could look like low-intensity outpatient services (these are counseling sessions typically conducted once or twice weekly), intense outpatient programs (These programs provide group and individual counseling sessions as well as robust education modules. Patients in these programs are typically engaged for three to four hours daily for up to five days per week.), or maybe even inpatient (residential) programs (These are full time treatment facilities in which you are engaged 24 hours daily, seven days a week. Most residential programs last for 28 to 30 days).

How do I get help if I am concerned about an alcohol use problem?

Active-duty personnel may self refer if they have concerns. Self referrals are non-punitive and non-administrative in nature and may be made to the unit Command Drug and Alcohol Representative (CDAR), District Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist (SAPS), your command, or a Chaplain.

Coast Guard dependents, civil service, and wage-grade workers may also seek short-term help for substance use by utilizing CG SUPRT at (855) 247-8778 or at their website. CG SUPRT provides access 24 hours a day, seven days a week to scheduled confidential counseling and assistance. Strict confidentiality is adhered to in accordance with all states and federal laws. If it is determined that more long term assistance is required, then Coast Guard dependents and federal employees should self refer through their respective primary care physicians.

CG SUPRT is an excellent resource for both active duty personnel and their dependents. Specially trained clinical care managers are on call to assist with any alcohol use or addiction concerns you may have. If your counselor feels that you require medical services that exceed his or her capabilities, you can be referred to your primary care physician (for a greater level of care).

Do you have questions about TRICARE benefits? Send us an email at socialmedia@uscg.mil and we will work to get your questions answered!

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