In a given year, seven million Americans experience a co-occurring substance abuse problem and mental health disorder, according to reports by the Department of Health and Human Services. That research suggests that people who experience depression or anxiety may be tempted to self-medicate with alcohol or other addictive substances, while those who are dependent on alcohol are more likely to slide into depression.

In fact, 37 percent of people who abuse alcohol also have a mental health disorder, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In order to combat the problem of co-occurring mental health and alcohol use disorders, Fort Lee is offering free alcohol screenings for service members and their Families affected by deployment at a special event April 10, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the Post Exchange. Attendees will have the opportunity to take a brief

self-assessment that gauges their likelihood for alcohol use disorders.

If the screening suggests likelihood for a disorder, referral information will be offered to provide the next step toward getting help. In addition to the in-person event, the self-assessments will also be available online at www.MilitaryMentalHealth.org.

The screening is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is free and confidential.

“When a person is depressed, he or she is more likely to turn to alcohol to try to take away the pain,” said Karl Christman, alcohol and drug control officer. “This can lead to a destructive spiral, as alcohol dependence only adds to the

pre-existing emotional distress. By completing a

self-assessment, an individual can take the first step toward finding out if they have a problem with alcohol.”

For details, call (804) 734-9079.