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Sometimes there can be a lot of pressure to drink when you are socializing. You may find yourself at a party where everyone is playing drinking games or at a bar with your friends who are buying you rounds of drinks to celebrate your return from deployment. While there is nothing wrong with choosing to drink alcohol, it's important to drink responsibly because irresponsible alcohol consumption can quickly lead to problems. How do you know if you have taken it too far? You may lose track of time and suddenly six hours have passed, you are unable to remember parts of the evening, or realize you drank more than you intended to when the night started.
Most Sailors who choose to drink do so responsibly, but it is probably a good idea to check in with yourself and your shipmates every now and then and make sure your drinking habits are not affecting your work or your loved ones. You may think your drinking habits are normal, but sometimes it is hard to spot warning signs of a drinking problem. Common myths surrounding alcohol use can contribute to the challenge of recognizing a problem.
Do you think you have all of the facts about alcohol? Here is the truth behind some of the common risks surrounding alcohol use:
If a service member chooses to drink, they can preserve their reputation, career, relationships, and health by choosing to drink responsibly. Not drinking responsibly can indicate a problem with alcohol. Some of the signs of a drinking problem include: drinking more than intended; having memory blackouts when drinking; and problems with family, friends, or the law caused by drinking.
Recognizing that you have a problem with alcohol is the first step in recovery. Reaching out for help takes strength and courage, and it could save your health and your career. By getting help early, service members can address their drinking habits before they result in serious consequences.
According to Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention (NADAP), self-referral is the best option for seeking help, but if you suspect that someone you know has an issue with alcohol, the Navy encourages you to seek help for them as well. When Sailors get help via self-referral or through the assistance of their command, neither results in any disciplinary action.
A self-referral is initiated by a Sailor who desires counseling or treatment for alcohol abuse. To qualify as a valid self-referral, there can be no credible evidence that an alcohol-related incident has already occurred (for example, you cannot initiate a self-referral after you have been cited for an alcohol-related offense to avoid disciplinary action). Additionally, a self-referral disclosure of alcohol abuse must be made to a qualified referral agent with the intent of acquiring treatment. Disclosure made to any other person who is not a qualified self-referral agent may not prevent disciplinary action. Qualified self-referral agents include:
If you do not want to use the self-referral process encouraged by the Navy, then it is important to understand your other options. Talking to an alcohol and drug control officer (ADCO) may help you decide the best route to take. Regardless, the Navy will support you in your effort to lead a healthier life. Similarly, the Navy reminds all personnel that if a friend or shipmate needs help controlling their drinking, do not wait until they hit rock bottom. Reach out and talk to them about your concerns.
For more information on responsible alcohol use and where to seek help if you or someone you know needs it, visit the following resources:
1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol Alert. No. 28; PH 356. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa28.htm. Updated October 2000.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol and Public Health: Underage Drinking. http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/underage-drinking.htm. Updated 20 October 2016.
3. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol Alert. No 35; PH 371. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa35.htm. Updated October 2000.
4. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Rethinking Drinking: Alcohol and your health. http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Q-and-As/Default.aspx.
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