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ANSBACH, Germany (April 7, 2020) -- The U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Ansbach Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP), would like to raise public awareness on the negative impact that high-risk drinking can have on the Community, and to foster a culture that promotes responsible drinking and making healthy, low-risk, life choices. ASAP would like to especially highlight Alcohol Awareness this month for two reasons, in observance of the national campaign and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you were unaware, April is Alcohol Awareness Month. The National Campaign was created in April 1987, partially to support local communities by ensuring that families have the resources, information, and options available to address alcohol-related issues. Its other purpose was to combat one of the crises during that time, alcoholism.

We find ourselves in challenging and historic times once again. The new crisis we are combating, COVID-19, is front and center. Over the last few months, the eyes of the World have been focused on the coronavirus. COVID-19 has been the topic of almost every conversation throughout households, boardrooms, hospitals, and the media. During this ongoing battle, it is understandable why many may feel stressed and anxious for themselves or their loved ones. As the number of positive cases grow so does the uncertainty and panic some may feel. It is completely natural to feel anxiety when faced with the unknown. However, reaching for a glass of alcohol can enhance your anxiety or make it more likely for problematic patterns of alcohol use to start or even continue.

Many are facing several significant challenges all at once. Lacking the understanding of the full capabilities of this virus, receiving contradictory information on television and online, accompanied by the fear of losing your financial support can be extremely overwhelming. Some are also coping with grief from the loss of a family member, a friend, a battle buddy, a colleague, or a patient. Isolation is yet another challenge many are faced with due to the World’s priority of flattening the curve and minimizing the spread of the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised that the best way to accomplish this is handwashing, cough etiquette, physical distancing by keeping 6 feet away from others in public, staying home, and congregating in groups no larger than 10 people (3 people for Germany per Bavarian State Parliament General Order).

Why is alcohol awareness important during COVID-19? Is the Community consuming more alcohol? The Ansbach Community has garnered roughly $86,000 in alcohol sales alone over the last 40 plus days. During this time, it is important to recognize these challenges that you may face in order to avoid using alcohol to self-medicate, potentially increasing certain COVID-19 related risks. According to Alcohol Research: Current Reviews (2015), a number of studies have shown how excessive alcohol use can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to pneumonia, acute respiratory stress syndromes (ARDS), and sepsis. In fact, acute binge drinking can also compromise your immune system. Practicing low-risk and responsible drinking is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. In times like these, the body needs to function at its highest levels in order to fight off the symptoms and decrease the potential harm of COVID-19.

If you recognize that you may need some help with coping strategies, please seek support. Stay connected. Connecting with others takes the pressure off and helps us through challenging times. Make connecting with others a priority- You'll realize that you are not alone. Talk to an older relative, a peer from work, a mentor, or a friend. It can be reassuring to hear about the methods others are using to cope that does not involve alcohol use. If you need additional support, please contact your community resources like the Employee Assistance Program at 09820-8963992, Behavioral Health/Substance Use Disorder Clinical Care at DSN 314-590-3600, On-call Chaplain at 0162-296-4338, Military Family Life Consultants at 0151-053-390375 or 0160-6256487, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at DSN 118 or 09802-83-118.

As the Secretary of Defense said,

"We will get through this together, and we will emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before."

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