April is Alcohol Awareness Month
By Capt. Angelica Escalona, Clinical psychologist
/ Published March 30, 2007
LAUGHLIN AFB, Texas --
When many people think of alcohol abusers, they picture teenagers sneaking drinks before high school football games or at unsupervised parties. However, alcohol abuse is prevalent within many demographic groups in the United States. People who abuse alcohol can be:
· College students who binge drink at local bars.
· Pregnant women who drink and put their babies at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome.
· Professionals and Active-Duty members who drink after a long day of work.
· Senior citizens who drink out of loneliness.
Recent statistics indicate that approximately 53 percent of men and women in the United States report that one or more of their close relatives has a drinking problem. When it comes to expense, the United States spends approximately $100 billion dollars annually on costs associated with alcohol abuse or dependence, including criminal acts, insurance premiums and treatment.
The Survey of Health Related Behaviors Among Military Personnel indicated that substantial negative consequences of alcohol use on work performance, health, and social relationships have been a continuing concern.
What then leads many to abuse alcohol in the first place? We live in a culture where drinking to excess is often encouraged, from the drink to take the edge out of a stressful week, to rites of passage where a person is considered a "legend" the more shots they take.
In the military community, drinks are shared to celebrate accomplishments such as a first solo flight or a promotion. Dining-ins are also places where excessive drinking could occur since certain actions could send one straight to a grog bowl that may be filled with a mix of potent, hard-hitting liquors.
We're not saying that one should not drink at all or that popular military traditions should be banned. Drinking on its own is not problematic, but irresponsible drinking is. Nearly 14 million Americans abuse alcohol or are alcoholics. Many of these individuals started as binge drinkers. A "binge" is a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol
concentration to 0.08 gram percent or above. For the typical man, this corresponds to consuming 5 or more drinks in a two-hour period, or for women, 4 or more drinks in the same period of time. Binge drinking for most people occurs on the weekends, thereby making it difficult for a person to recognize when their drinking is becoming problematic until it is too late.
To recognize the serious problem of alcohol abuse, April is designated "Alcohol Awareness Month." During this month the ADAPT program will provide basic information on alcohol abuse and dependence at various locations on base (i.e. main gate, Base Exchange, commissary, library, gym, officer and enlisted dorms). We will also be sponsoring alcohol-free activities such Casino Night 6 p.m. April 14th at the Fiesta Center.
For more information, contact the Life Skills Support Center at 298-6422.