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In Fargo, Alcohol Sales Rose Along With Red River

Local authorities said there weren't many drunken driving arrests during the flood emergency except, notably, a woman arrested while trying to drive her van over a levee.

"If they are drinking, I think they're probably staying in their homes," said Jim Thoreson, a Cass County sheriff's chief deputy.

The New Orleans area continues to see increased alcohol and other substance-abuse problems blamed on Hurricane Katrina nearly four years ago, when people ratcheted up their reliance on booze, prescribed anti-anxiety drugs and illegal drugs.

"Alcohol can alleviate some of the stress," said Dr. Howard Osofksy, psychiatry chairman for the Louisiana State University's Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. "When it is used beyond moderation, people who already have problems can have more difficulties, so what's used to help relieve the stress can be problematic in its own right."

McLean urged Fargo residents to talk about their feelings.

"This is an abnormal situation," he said. "And it's very helpful to know that you're not the only one with these same sorts of issues."

For Kevin Schuldheisz, sipping a tall beer with a friend at the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant bar Tuesday was a good break after a string of long days spent sandbagging, including at two friends' homes that nevertheless suffered flood damage.
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