Be smart with alcohol this holiday season

12 Dec 2008 | Lance Cpl. Randall Little

The holiday season, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, is not only known for family gatherings, but for parties and drinking.

“We want Marines and sailors to be aware of the risks of drinking too much and take precautions to prevent them,” said John Swett, a health educator for the health promotions office on base. “(Service members) need to use common sense to protect themselves and their fellow Marines and sailors.”

One of the biggest issues with alcohol is driving after consuming alcoholic beverages. During 2007, 12,998 people in the U.S. died in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes. In fiscal year 2007 there were 21 alcohol-related deaths out of 57 personal motor vehicle fatalities in the Marine Corps, according to the Navy Safety Center.

Between fiscal year 2002 and 2008 the Marine Corps has lost 97 of their own, the equivalent of two platoons, to alcohol-related vehicle mishaps.

“Marines should never consider driving drunk,” said Swett. “If they go somewhere and know they will be drinking, they should take a cab or leave their keys with someone and spend the night.”

Another form of transportation service members should use when they have been drinking is the Arrive Alive program.

The program allows Marines and sailors to take a cab back to base where the Headquarters and Support Battalion officer of the day will pay the fare.

Personnel who use this service will repay the OOD for the total cost within three days after use, but the price of a cab is better than poor decisions costing service members their lives or career.

“There are a lot of options for service members other than drunk driving,” said Swett. “There is no excuse for getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking.

Although drunk driving is one of the biggest concerns during the holiday season, underage drinking is another issue Marines need to take into consideration.

Under N.C. law, anyone younger than 21 who purchases or attempts to purchase alcohol will face penalties including fines and court costs. Additionally, if someone older than 21 buys alcohol for someone younger than the legal drinking age, they could be fined and face jail time.

Another concern of drinking is the effect alcohol has on service members’ judgment.

“When Marines get drunk, some of them see themselves as ladies men,” said Swett. “As a result, a lot of the sexual assault cases you see in the area involve alcohol.”

To prevent poor decisions, Marines need to have a plan, said Swett. If they plan ahead, they can make their holiday season enjoyable. 

For more information about alcohol abuse prevention, visit the Web site at or