Alcoholism is a serious problem. It affects families like nothing else. This month, we pause to pay close attention to the causes of this destructive addiction.

Bottom line up front, alcoholism is a chronic disease. But, thankfully it is a disease that can be cured through discipline, education and support.

We see alcohol dependence as having four common symptoms: withdrawal, such as sweating, shaking and nausea; an inability to limit the number of drinks; signs of dependence; and a high tolerance for alcohol consumption.

Studies suggest that nearly 14 million Americans are afflicted by alcoholism. About one half of all American adults have someone in their family with history of alcoholism or problem drinking, so you know it remains a problem in any community, military or civilian.

This is a problem that touches all of us in one way or another. The costs to society are estimated to be $185 billion each year.

We all should be aware of the signs of alcohol abuse. If you answer "yes" to any of the following questions, you may need to seek help:

1) Ever felt you ought to cut down on your drinking' Yes or No

2) Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking' Yes or No

3) Ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking' Yes or No

4) Ever had an eye-opener (drink) to steady nerves in the morning' Yes or No

If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, the U.S. Army has resources available to help you to deal with alcoholism.

The Army Substance Abuse Program offers help and counseling for Soldiers. For ASAP, call 737-3161. For our Civilian Employees and family members, the Employee Assistance Program offers similar help with an extra layer of confidentiality. For EAP, call 736-3295 or 736-5187.

Together, we can get a handle on alcohol abuse.