Alcohol related incidents: Binge drinking and you

by Airman 1st Class Zade C. Vadnais
18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Editor's note: This is the first installment in a four-part series on alcohol related incidents.

All U.S. service members and their families on Okinawa should be familiar with the negative impacts of alcohol-related incidents. Most of the military personnel on the island have witnessed the dramatic effect these incidents can have on morale and the local community.

Taking the time to understand the definition of ARIs and their relationship to dangerous behavior such as binge drinking is the first step to becoming an informed consumer. Informed consumers are better equipped to form effective plans to avoid situations where ARIs are likely, as well as safely remove themselves if they end up in a situation beyond their control.

"Any incident that impacts your career, your personal life or your work life and involves alcohol is an ARI," said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Becker, 18th Medical Operations Squadron certified alcohol and drug abuse counselor and interim NCO in charge of Air Force Drug and Alcohol Abuse Program. "The big ones we see often are driving under the influence, underage alcohol consumption, injuries sustained while intoxicated, showing up to work intoxicated...stuff like that."

Generally, ARIs are more likely to occur if the people involved have been binge drinking, which the Center for Disease Control refers to as any two-hour period in which men consume more than five alcoholic beverages or women consume more than four. The standard definition of an alcoholic beverage includes 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled liquor, 5 fluid ounces of wine or 12 fluid ounces of beer.

Becker warns that not all beverages served at a bar or mixed at a party are equal to one standard drink. For example, consuming three beers would not have the same effect as consuming three strong mixed drinks such as long island iced teas, which can contain as much alcohol as five or six standard drinks each.

Senior Airman Ashley Fermin, 18th Security Forces Squadron desk sergeant, said everyone will process alcohol differently based on factors such as body mass, what they've been drinking and for how long. Typically, it will take about one hour to process a single unit of alohol.

Although the potential consequences of one's involvement in an ARI and tips for preventing them will be discussed further in later installments of this series, there are resources available on Kadena to educate and assist anyone who feels they would benefit from additional information. The Health and Wellness Center and ADAPT are two such resources.

If you think you may have a drinking problem, call the ADAPT office at 630-4817, option two, option two.

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