Since it began as a fundraiser for the U.K.-based charity Macmillan Cancer Support in 2014, Sober October has become a global movement.

Not everyone who swaps Heineken for its 0.0 counterpart this month is a problem drinker, but going booze-free for even a week can help participants notice patterns in their drinking habits.

And a free online tool from the state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and Department of Labor and Industry raises awareness about substance use disorder (SUD), which includes alcohol and drug addiction.

Together with the nonprofit Shatterproof, the departments released Just Five during National Prevention Week in May. Since then, nearly 3,000 individuals have visited the online resource to learn more about SUD.

In a news release, DDAP Secretary Jen Smith noted employers often emphasize early screening and treatment for diseases like cancer and heart disease.

“Behavioral health conditions, such as the disease of addiction, are no different,” Smith said. “We encourage employers throughout the commonwealth to incorporate these learning modules into workplace health initiatives.”

Even if a workplace or school hasn’t yet incorporated Just Five, its six learning modules are available for free to anyone interested in taking the five-minute, self-paced courses.

Just Five is completely confidential. No course registration is required and no personal information is shared.

Before starting the courses, which can be taken in any order and cover topics like “The Science of Addiction” and “Signs, Symptoms and Treatment,” a short pre-test pops up. Shatterproof determines Just Five’s effectiveness by comparing your pre-test to a quick post-test.

Jennifer Barrier, secretary of L&I, said in the release that it’s “absolutely essential for employees struggling with substance abuse disorder to have easy, confidential access to education and treatment information.”

Smith added people typically interact most with their coworkers.

“By improving our understanding of the disease, we can help understand others who may be at risk or provide resources to those who may be struggling.”

To learn more about Just Five, or take the courses, visit

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