Curb alcohol abuse with help from Tricare

  • Published
  • By Kristen Ward
  • TriWest Healthcare Alliance
It only takes one.

A single drink can have multiple effects on an individual. Depending on the person, these effect could include difficulty walking, blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times or impaired memory.

Those are just a few of the short-term effects.

Heavy drinking over a long period of time can lead to anxiety, depression, blackouts or liver disease, not to mention the cumulative impact on spouses and children.

Despite these dangers, the Department of Defense estimates that nearly a quarter of active-duty servicemembers consider themselves regular heavy drinkers -- defined as having five or more drinks at least once a week. This habit can also negatively affect military careers and relationships.

Fortunately, the DoD offers resources to encourage responsible drinking or eliminate drinking entirely as part of its Tricare entitlement.

Tricare covers certain treatments for abuse of alcohol and other substances. To use Tricare benefits, active-duty servicemembers must get a referral through their primary care manager.

Active-duty family members may call 1-888-TRIWEST to see what services are available in their area.

Any applicable co-pays or deductibles and cost-shares, based on the sponsor's status and Tricare program, will apply. Use network providers to save money. Specific coverage and limitations are found at

Drinking can have less of an impact if a person seeks help. For anyone trying to cut back on their drinking, here are several steps you can take:

· Write it down. Keep track of how much alcohol is consumed on a calendar or in a journal. By taking note of each drink, one can become aware.

· Know the numbers. Be aware of standard drink sizes -- 12 ounces of regular beer, five ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits

· Set limits. Decide when and how much to drink. The National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that men limit themselves to a maximum of two drinks per day and women no more than one drink per day.

· Use the wingman system. Just like on the battlefield, ensure that your wingman is protected from danger. Confront that person if his or her drinking is spiraling out of control.

Other support groups and therapy treatments are also available.

· Find an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting near you.

· Visit TriWest's Behavioral Health portal under "Beneficiary Services" to watch streaming video of "Help From Home," which offers advice from behavioral health experts who are also combat veterans and military families that have coped with effects of combat stress.

· Learn about "That Guy" and the pitfalls of binge drinking through humor, testimonials and video.

· Click on the "mind" tab on the left-hand menu, then click "alcohol" for many resources available to active duty service members and their families. 

· Read and watch testimonials from other service members describing how they overcame their post-deployment challenges.

For more information, call 1-888-TRIWEST.