‘Rum and Vodka’ sheds light on substance abuse

27 Jun 2013 | Lance Cpl. Joshua W. Grant

Hundreds attended Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s first ever Rum and Vodka presentation at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune aboard MCB Camp Lejeune, recently. Co-sponsored by Headquarters Marine Corps Safety Division and Marine and Family Programs, the event is designed to promote substance abuse awareness and prevention.

The presentation included a reading from Conor McPherson’s play “Rum and Vodka” which was used to spark interactive discussions about alcoholism, substance abuse and the effects each have on veterans and active-duty Marines.

The play exemplifies the lower parts of life for a 24-year-old married Irishman with two daughters. After a rough patch, the man turns to drinking and blames everyone in his life for his problems.

A panel of three men shared their stories to the audience as proof that substance abuse exists not only in plays.

“I got deployed right after I graduated training, but the experiences I gained didn’t really bother me,” said David A. Blea II, a retired staff sergeant. “The biggest issue I had was so much down time.”

Blea went on to explain after his deployment he told himself that because his father had been an alcoholic he wasn’t going to follow the same path.

“My social drinking turned into getting completely intoxicated and urinating on cars,” he said.

The stories from the panel sparked numerous interactive questions to the audience such as ‘Why do we drink as human beings and why do Marines drink in particular?’

One audience member stood up and answered with “We drink as Marines because it’s expected of us. We joined the Marine Corps and people expect us to be the best, and young Marines take that mindset too far.”

Sparked by interest, other Marines shared their painful stories to show the stigma associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injuries does not need to exist and substance abuse is not the answer.

They explained help is always around the corner, and Marines should not be afraid to seek it.

Blea added, when he was drinking he blamed a lot of his problems on other people. Until he got help, his downward spiral was affecting his family and work life.

Designed to eliminate the stigma of mental health issues and raise substance abuse awareness, the Rum and Vodka presentation aboard base showed Marines they are likely not alone and help is just around the corner.

For help, contact the DStress hotline at 877-476-7734 or or contact Resilience Education at 451-2865.