Alcohol Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By Earl Rivers
  • 1st Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron
April is Alcohol Awareness Month and one of its goals is to increase awareness for responsible alcohol use and the dangers of at-risk drinking, particularly binge drinking. Binge drinking accounts for an average of 40,000 deaths and $167 billion in economic costs to our nation each year.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person's blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 percent or above. This typically happens when men consume five or more drinks and women consume four or more drinks in about two hours.

One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge, said Capt. Shannon Branlund, 1st Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program manager.

"Binge drinking is most common among persons aged 18 to 24 years, and this age group also consumes the highest number of drinks (nine) per binge drinking episode," Branlund said. "A standard drink contains about a half an ounce of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in 12 ounces of regular beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine or 1 1/2 ounces of 80-proof liquor."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 85 percent of all alcohol-impaired driving episodes are reported by persons who also reported binge drinking. And, binge drinking accounts for more than 50 percent of the alcohol consumed by adults and 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by youths in the U.S.

Additionally, excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. These immediate effects are most often the result of binge drinking and include:
  • Unintentional injuries, including traffic injuries, falls, drownings, burns and firearm injuries.
  • Violence, including intimate partner violence and child maltreatment. About 35 percent of victims report that offenders are under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol use is also associated with two out of three incidents of intimate partner violence.
  • Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, and increased risk of sexual assault. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth among pregnant women, and a combination of physical and mental birth defects among children that last throughout life.
  • Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels that suppress the central nervous system and can cause loss of consciousness, low blood pressure, low body temperature, coma, respiratory depression or death.
To eliminate binge drinking and promote responsible alcohol use, the NIAAA recommends low-risk drinking. Low-risk drinking is men consuming no more than four drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week; and women consuming no more than three drinks on any single day and no more than seven drinks per week.

If you are considering changing your drinking habits, 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 do not have any of the above-listed conditions, talk with your doctor to determine whether you should cut down or quit based on factors such as:
  • Family history of alcohol problems.
  • Whether you've had drinking-related injuries.
  • Symptoms of sleep disorders or sexual dysfunction.
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 prevention, evaluation and treatment services to active-duty members.

The ADAPT Program is located on the second floor of the clinic, and the staff can be reached at (850) 881-4237. Family members of active-duty members should contact TriCare-partner Value Options at (800) 700-8646 for information and assistance in obtaining substance abuse evaluation and treatment services.