April is Alcohol Awareness Month, a time to reflect and learn about responsible alcohol consumption.
Aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and throughout the Marines Corps, the effects of excessive alcohol use have not gone unnoticed.
From Oct. 1, 2013 to Jan. 31, the installation saw 98 cases of service members driving while intoxicated, as well as 45 other alcohol-related incidents.
“Drinking in itself is not a problem, it’s drinking to excess that leads to trouble,” said Stanley Dutko, the director of safety for Marine Corps Installations East – Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
However, there are cases where it is unacceptable to drink, such as being under age, operating a motor vehicle, on duty or at work, he added.
“Marines and sailors are smart, so we want to educate them,” said Dutko. “Informing them of the risks allows them to make well-informed decisions.”
Everybody manages alcohol differently, and it’s important for service members to understand how alcohol affects them.
Classes such as Prime For Life, that teaches participants about alcohol abuse prevention, are available on base. There are also online resources available by visiting www.thatguy.com.
A moderate alcohol intake in the appropriate circumstances is no issue, said Dutko. However, for some, alcohol consumption equates to binge drinking.
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking means drinking to an excess that within two hours a person’s blood alcohol concentration reaches .08 grams per deciliter. It takes about four drinks for a woman and five drinks for a man to reach that concentration.
The higher one’s blood alcohol concentration, the more impaired they are. Some effects of alcohol use are reduced inhibitions, confusion, slurred speech and motor impairment among others.
According to the Center of Disease Control, most binge drinkers are not alcohol dependent. However, there are still heavy consequences associated with excessive drinking.
Excessive drinking can lead to heart, liver and pancreas damage, as well as changes to the brain, leading to depression and addiction.
“Alcohol misuse can end up making issues worse,” said John Allegri, an alcohol and substance abuse prevention specialist with Marine Corps Community Service’s Substance Abuse Prevention. “It can affect a person physically, mentally and emotionally.”
When the focus of a person’s life begins to revolve around getting, using or recovering from alcohol, they need help, Allegri added.
“Once someone crosses over the line, they run the risk of addiction,” said Allegri.
Addiction is a difficult path to manage, Allegri added.
“Practice making good low-risk choices to avoid abusing alcohol,” said Allegri.
For more information, visit www.mccslejeune.com/health or call Substance Abuse Prevention at 451-2865.
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