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ADAPTing a plan: drinking responsibly on Andersen

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Before going out to drink, have a good plan and always have a wingman.

Also have a good understanding of what constitutes a drink. One drink can be defined as one 12-ounce beer, one shot of liquor, or four ounces of wine. This does not include specialty drinks such as "The Ammo Bowl." "The Ammo Bowl" is an unregulated mixture of multiple proof alcohols, which means there is no way to determine the exact alcohol content of each sip.

Planning ahead is the best way to avoid getting involved in an alcohol-related incident or developing a serious alcohol problem.

Planning begins with setting a moderate limit. Drinking in moderation means no more than two or three drinks per episode, no more than three days per week. Limiting how fast you drink results in keeping your blood alcohol concentration below .045-.055.

Never drink alcohol when you are taking medications, battling an illness made worse by alcohol, pregnant or trying to conceive, experiencing symptoms of depression or doing anything that may endanger your life.

Some other planning tips include eating a meal before drinking, drinking no more than one drink per hour, limiting your consumption, always knowing what you are drinking, alternating alcohol-free drinks throughout the evening and knowing how you will get home safely before you go out.

The liver can only metabolize approximately one alcoholic drink per hour. More than that could result in significant medical problems such as cancer, organ diseases, alcohol poisoning, alcoholism or sexual dysfunction.

High-risk drinking and alcohol abuse greatly impact our lives and our ability to fulfill the Air Force mission. Yearly, the Air Force loses millions of dollars and manpower hours due to substance abuse.

As our service becomes leaner while acquiring additional responsibilities, our mission effectiveness depends upon a disciplined and fit fighting force capable of deploying globally at a moment's notice. This means we cannot allow substance abuse to degrade our combat capability. Irresponsible alcohol use, on or off base, is dangerous and reflects poorly on the Air Force community as a whole.

If you've felt that your drinking has gotten out of control, you've been unable to cut down, people are annoyed and criticize your drinking, or you've felt guilty about your drinking, you should seek help immediately. The stigma of destroying your career because you sought help is untrue. The majority of individuals seeking help find they actually save their career and their lives.

There are several base agencies that can help you. The Air Force Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program was developed to promote readiness, health and wellness through education and treatment, and to minimize the negative consequences to the individual, family and organization. When a person is referred to the ADAPT program, he or she will be evaluated by a certified substance abuse counselor. The evaluation will determine whether or not the person meets the criteria for Alcohol Abuse or Dependence.

Military members are encouraged to seek assistance from their unit commander, first sergeant, supervisor, the ADAPT program or a medical professional if their drinking has become a problem. If an incident occurs in which alcohol is suspected to be a cause, commanders are responsible for ensuring their troops are referred to the ADAPT program for proper evaluation. For assistance regarding ADAPT, please call 366-5125.

Einstein once said, "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius knows its limits." Remember that the next time you go drinking.