Navy, Marine Corps Attack Alcohol Binge-Drinking

By Debbie Gregory.

Binge drinking is a problem everywhere, and the Armed Forces are no exception. The U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps are distributing alcohol detection devices (breathalyzers) to combat out-of-control binge drinking.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced the “21st Century Sailor and Marine Initiative” aimed at deglamorizing, treating and tracking alcohol consumption. According to the Navy Department, “Sailors who drink excessively, or late into the night, then report to duty under the influence of alcohol, place themselves, their shipmates, and our equipment at risk.” San Diego County Naval Air Forces, submarine, and Camp Pendleton recently received the first hand-held breathalyzers.

Besides affecting job performance, drinking also carries health risks, such as cirrhosis of the liver. Drinking also contributes to life-threatening situations such as domestic violence, drunk driving, sexual assaults, and increased suicidal tendencies.

This step-up to control the problems that a night of binging can produce looks to reduce hangovers, poor job performance, family stress and arrests. Additionally, it can potentially prevent fatal errors that occur while training or operating dangerous equipment.

Off-duty intoxication is also under fire, as the Navy and Marine Corps implement strict alcohol detection measures, hoping to improve the health, safety, and performance of all “at sea” service personnel.

Binge-drinking is an addictive habit that leads to chronic failure. Contributing to the abuse of alcohol are factors such as stress, frequent deployments, military downsizing, and personal life situations.

While many use alcohol as a short-term fix to calm emotions, numb anxiety, or alleviate insomnia, in truth it acerbates the problem. According to retired Marine master sergeant, John Veneziano, hung-over service members are “not able to fly that plane, pull that trigger, fix that aircraft, and drive that vehicle.” Alcohol consumption initiates a long-term problem. Veneziano directs Camp Pendleton’s consolidated substance abuse counseling center.

Through an awareness campaign, service members are learning that after a night of binging, sleep, a shower and shave do not prepare them to be 100% for duty. Reformulating thinking patterns and educating the service members regarding the benefits of nutrition might prevent or provide a renewed concept on health. Additionally, being in the best physical condition might help eliminate some alcohol issues. A healthy body and mind can cope with situations more effectively than one suffering from the ravages of alcohol-ravaged.

What is your point of view on the Navy and Marines new tactical intervention on alcohol-related binge drinking?