Alcohol Screening: April 8

The Treatment Research Center of the University of Pennsylvania Health System is offering free, anonymous screenings for alcohol problems as part of the first National Alcohol Screening Day--April 8,1999.

The free screenings will be held from 12-2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. at 3900 Chestnut Street, on 39th St. between Chestnut and Sansom Sts.

Participants can hear an educational presentation on alcohol problems, complete a written self-test, and talk one-on-one with a health professional. There are also an educational video, pamphlets, brochures and flyers, and, for those who need them, referrals to local treatment and support resources.

National Alcohol Screening Day--being presented as part of Alcohol Awareness Month--is a program of the nonprofit National Mental Illness Screening Project in partnership with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a part of the National Institutes of Health. It is being held across the country at 2000 screening sites, including hospitals, alcohol and addiction treatment centers, and colleges.

According to Dr. Helen Pettinati, division director of the Treatment Research Center and associate professor in psychiatry at Penn's School of Medicine, "This is an important program. Problems from excessive drinking affect all areas of life. It can damage the physical and emotional health of a person, as well as affect the people around this person. Drinking problems may manifest as fights, accidents, and loss of job or family."

Dr. Joseph Volpicelli, senior associate director at the Treatment Research Center and an associate professor in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine adds, "We hope that the first-ever National Alcohol Screening Day will increase public understanding of alcohol abuse and alcoholism, and the need for treatment. One of America's most serious and persistent health problems, alcohol abuse and alcoholism cost society more than $167 billion each year. Nearly 14 million people in the United States--one in every 13 adults--abuse alcohol or are alcoholic."

Attendees at the Treatment Research Center will learn about the full range of alcohol problems including: craving, loss of control, failure to fulfill major work, school, or home responsibilities, drinking in situations that are physically dangerous, and recurring problems that occur when drinking.

The program is open to all. Based on the model used for the successful National Depression Screening Day, it tries to help people in a way that is "nonthreatening, easily accessible, and offers direct connection with treatment resources in the community," its planners say.

Major support has been provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism with additional funding from the American Psychiatric Foundation, Charter Behavioral Health Systems, Eli Lilly and Company, Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is providing a major grant to support the college component of the program.

For other events in Alcohol Awareness Month, please see Office of Health Education's web site,

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 27, April 6, 1999