JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, drawing attention to the devastating impact of alcohol and drug abuse - not only on people affected by accidents on the nation's roadways, but on society at large.
Alcohol and drug abuse in the military degrades mission effectiveness and personal quality of life, impacting careers, families and co-workers. The Air Force confronts the issue by educating members about the dangers of substance abuse and offering a comprehensive program that helps Airmen, dependents, retirees and civilian employees deal with their problems and return to full productivity.
The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program, also known as ADAPT, aims to "promote readiness, health and wellness through the prevention and treatment of substance misuse and abuse," according to Air Force Instruction 44-121.
At Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, the 359th Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health Flight runs ADAPT, providing in-house services such as education, assessment, preventive counseling and referrals to community treatment programs.
"There are three ways to utilize our services," Capt. (Dr.) Timothy Rogers, ADAPT program manager, said. "There is self-referral, which we recommend; referral by command, which happens when there's a substance-related issue such as underage drinking or a driving under the influence charge; and a medical referral."
AFI 44-121 establishes four tiers of activities to meet the program's objectives - primary prevention and education, which includes population-based outreach, education, prevention programs, screening and consultation; secondary/targeted prevention to prevent future alcohol misuse or drug use by individuals identified as high-risk or suspected of substance abuse; tertiary care/treatment; and training for ADAPT staff.
"Everybody who comes in will first have an assessment," Rogers said. "At that point, we determine if they will have a diagnosis. If they don't, we provide education. If they drink, we provide alcohol awareness education so they have the basic facts and can drink in a responsible manner."
Rogers said part of that education is teaching people about the Air Force's 0-0-1-3 policy - 0 drinks if you're under 21, 0 DUI incidents, no more than 1 drink per hour and no more than 3 drinks per night. In addition, ADAPT staff teach that unhealthy drinking means more than four in a single day for men 18-65 years old and more than three for women.
"We really want to deliver that message as the holidays come up," Rogers said.
Senior Airman Le'Aisha Rose, ADAPT program technician, said some Airmen who seek counseling are binge drinkers who may not need ADAPT's spectrum of services.
"We try to educate them on the dangers of binge drinking and to curb their habits so they don't become dependent," she said.
Rose said ADAPT staff emphasizes having plans in place when out drinking, such as having a designated driver or calling for a ride, and to follow the 0-0-1-3 policy. Party hosts, too, should act responsibly when serving alcoholic beverages.
Rogers said if it is determined the patient requires more than an education program, a treatment team is assembled "so everybody's on the same page for the best way forward." Detoxification may be part of that prescription.
"If they have to go through detox, we make sure they go to an inpatient or outpatient facility," he said.
Rogers said after-care, including monitoring and weekly support group meetings, is another important part of the program.
"We make sure they're connected to community resources, such as Alcoholics Anonymous," he said. "If there are other mental health issues, we ensure they're connected to the appropriate resources."
Rogers said command awareness is also important.
"The goal is for command to know what the plan is, even if the individual is self-referred," he said. "It takes a lot of courage for someone to come forward. Command can provide support for positive goals."
Rogers emphasized that people seek help if they are struggling with alcohol or drugs.
"People who recognize there is a problem and take advantage of the services they are offered tend to be successful," he said. "The hardest thing is for people to recognize there is a problem and that things must change."
The 359th Medical Group will observe National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month throughout December with an information table at the Randolph Exchange. ADAPT staff will be on hand today from noon-4 p.m.