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Resiliency and Alcohol: Know the risks, limits

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- The DoD Center of Excellence for Psychological Health defines Resiliency as "the ability to withstand, recover and/or grow in the face of stressors and changing demands."

To further enhance Airman, organizational and community resilience, Air Force leaders launched the Comprehensive Airman Fitness model in March 2011. The CAF model's purpose is to achieve long-term culture-change that encourages strength-based measures and avoids self-defeating behaviors.

The CAF model's goal is to build and sustain a resilient AF Community by fostering physical, mental, social and spiritual fitness.

According to U.S. Public Health Service Lt. Cmdr. Sean Bennett, chief of the 1st Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron Resiliency Element, resilience is being exposed to an adverse situation and building effective coping abilities and new strengths as a result.

To achieve Comprehensive Airman Fitness and optimal performance, it is vital that we responsibly use alcohol.

Relative to responsible alcohol use, the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines "moderate drinking" as an adult male, who is 21 years and older, consuming no more than two drinks per day; and an adult female, who is 21 years and older, consuming no more than one drink per day.

A "standard" drink contains about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of "pure" alcohol. (e.g., 12 ounces of regular beer; 8 ounces of malt liquor; 5 ounces of table wine; 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof spirits.)

Additionally, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines "low-risk drinking" as men consuming no more than four drinks on any day and no more than 14 drinks per week; and women consuming no more than three drinks on any day and no more than seven drinks per week.

Fortunately, seven in 10 U.S. adults always drink at "low-risk" levels or do not drink at all. Specifically, 37 percent always drink at low-risk levels, and 35 percent don't drink at all.

In contrast, 28 percent of adults drink at "heavy" or "at-risk" levels. For healthy adults in general, "heavy" or "at-risk" drinking is men consuming more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week; and women consuming more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks per week.

Nineteen percent of adults are at increased-risk for developing alcohol-related problems because they drink more than either the single-day limits or the weekly limits. And nine percent of adults are at highest-risk because they drink more than both the single-day limits and the weekly limits.

If you are considering changing your drinking, you'll need to decide whether to cut down or to quit. It's a good idea to discuss different options with a doctor, a friend or someone else you trust.

Quitting is strongly advised if you:
  • Try cutting down but cannot stay within the limits you set.
  • Have had an alcohol use disorder or now have symptoms.
  • Have a physical or mental condition that is caused or worsened by drinking.
  • Are taking a medication that interacts with alcohol.
  • Are or may become pregnant.
If you have any of these conditions, talk with your doctor to determine whether you should cut down or quit based on factors such as:
  • Family history of alcohol problems.
  • Your age.
  • Whether you've had drinking-related injuries.
  • Symptoms of sleep disorders or sexual dysfunction.
"We want to encourage our Airmen to be responsible in all their behaviors, not just alcohol consumption," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Corey Carnes, Alcohol & Drug Abuse Prevention & Treatment program manager of 1st SOMOS. "Know the risks, know your limits, stick to your convictions and surround yourself with accountable people. Then the fun stays fun, and it won't turn sour or become regrettable in the morning."

To assist Hurlburt Field commanders, first sergeants, leaders and supervisors in promoting responsible alcohol use, the Hurlburt Field ADAPT program provides a wide range of services to active-duty members.

The ADAPT Program is located on the second floor of the Hurlburt Main Clinic and the staff can be reached at 881-4237.

Family members of active-duty personnel should contact TriCare-partner Value Options at (800) 700-8646 for information and assistance in obtaining substance abuse evaluation and treatment services.