Be responsible!

  • Published
  • By Capt. Anthony Wilson
  • ADAPT Program manager
Over the years as a certified substance abuse counselor, I've worked with many patients who have experienced problems with alcohol. The reasons and excuses are very familiar and seem to be more abundant here at Malmstrom. Regardless, we are still obligated to support and defend this nation 24 hours a day, and alcohol can not impact that responsibility, regardless of the situation. Substance abuse interferes with mission accomplishment and we can't afford to put our national security at risk. 

Supervisors also have a responsibility to inform troops of the dangers of underage drinking, driving under the influence and what responsible drinking constitutes. No supervisor is expected to be with his or her troop 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. But a supervisor is expected to set an example for troops and provide them with a role model and environment that will produce success. 

An express trip to disaster can start with alcohol consumption. People want to fit in to a new environment and alcohol can be a great social mixer. Peer pressure and temptations are also associated with drinking and the illusion that everyone drinks. It is also easy to understand the frustration accompanying the fact that a person may be old enough to die for their country but not old enough to drink. 

The temptation to drink is real but it can be avoided. Television commercials, movies and television shows glamorize alcohol as a way to cope with problems. Alcohol is also portrayed as one of the ways people can celebrate and our society has found just about every occasion acceptable for drinking. Promotions, weddings and birthdays are just a few occasions that are known for celebrating with alcohol. On the other hand, we've also established very common reasons for using alcohol to cope with problems. Demotions, divorce, separations and deaths of loved ones are all events that can lead someone to drink. Being stationed at Malmstrom and surrounded by the great outdoors or the lack of a larger metropolitan city may cause people to become bored and turn to drinking for fun or as a way to pass time. For those who are having a difficult time adjusting, drinking isn't the only thing to do here. The majority of people on base don't use alcohol as their first line of entertainment. If you feel that everyone you know is drinking, you may want to take a chance and find new people to hang out with. 

Those who are of age to drink should know the laws they are being held accountable to and use alcohol responsibly. Most people who get caught are not aware they were above the legal limit when they were pulled over by the police. The legal blood alcohol minimum for a DUI is .08. How would any one know what their blood alcohol content is at any given time? What does a .08 BAC feel like? How many drinks does it take to reach a .08? Is .08 totally out of control? The answers to these questions are all variable. 

The age, body composition, gender and drinking experience of the individual are all factors that affect a BAC. Two people drinking the same amounts of alcohol at the same pace could likely be affected differently due to these factors. It doesn't take a lot of alcohol to reach a .08. One 12 oz. can of beer has the potential for producing a .02 BAC within an hour. On the average, the body can only metabolize .005 percent of alcohol per hour. The key is allowing time for your body to process alcohol in a manner that allows you to safely drive. Time is the key to ensuring you will be safe after consuming alcohol. Allowing time for each 12 oz. drink to process before having the next drink will provide you a safer guide of use. 

The key to sobering up has been, and will always be, time, or drinking responsibly in the first place. Remember the "0-0-1-3" program which stands for 0 drinks if you are under 21, 0 drinks if you are driving, a maximum of 1 drink per hour, and a maximum of 3 drinks in one night. The very best prevention method is to plan before taking the first drink. We believe being responsible with alcohol calls for everyone to make the right decisions. If you have an alcohol-related incident where someone gets injured or killed is too late to realize that your actions affect you and the people around you. 

Here are a few suggested ways you can be responsible with alcohol:
- Don't drink until you are 21! 

- Have a plan in place before you go out. 

- Using a designated driver and ensuring the DD doesn't drink throughout the course of the night. 

- Know your limit and stick to it (remember 0013). 

- If you find your self in need of help, call a taxi or a friend to pick you up if you have been drinking. 

- If that doesn't work, call you supervisor, first sergeant or commander. 

- As a last resort, call the Airman Against Drunk Driving phone number 788-HOME (4663) for a free confidential ride home 

- If hosting a party, take keys and only allow those not drinking to drive home.
- Use time as your friend not your enemy.

- If you have a problem, talk to your supervisor or first sergeant. 

- If you have a problem with alcohol, seek help by calling 731-4451 for an appointment. 

- Learn more information about alcohol by visiting That Guy is a multi-media campaign that uses online and offline communication with the goal of reducing excessive drinking among young service men and women. The Web site uses humor to deliver a serious message and provide vital tools so you can be part of the effort to eradicate That Guy. It's a reminder not to be That Guy! 

It just takes planning and preparation to be responsible. Don't allow a few drinks to lead you to time in jail, trouble at work, damage to your career and future, or even worse, injury or loss of a human life. The choice is yours to make.