Many people would agree that in today’s society alcohol has been commercialized to the point one would believe drinking is a rite of passage, much like learning to drive. Alcohol is typically portrayed in commercials as a party enhancer, as a means to become instantly cool, or as an indispensable relaxation aide. However, the most important message in those commercials is normally found at the very end and in fine print, “Please Drink Responsibly.” The simple three-word message is typically the last thing on the screen before it fades to black. However, what does drinking responsibly actually mean?
Before a long holiday weekend, it’s very common for Luke Air Force Base Airmen to receive a safety briefing prior to “clocking out” for the long weekend. The message may vary depending on the holiday, work circumstances, and/or local events going on at the time; however, one major component that will always be a part of that message is drinking responsibly. But again, what does drinking responsibly actually entail for today’s military member?
Drinking responsibly entails a couple of things. The first component of responsible drinking is setting and knowing your limits. The Air Force recommends its members follow the guideline of “0-0-1-3.” The guideline states ‘0’ drinks if driving, ‘0’ drinks if underage, ‘1’ drink per hour, not to exceed ‘3’ drinks in one night. The motivation behind this guideline is to help ensure military members are capable of making sound decisions at the end of the night. If an individual is unaware of his limits or exceeds them, it is increasingly more difficult for him to make the best decisions. Additionally, it has been proven through the bi-phasic model of drinking, that a person will not obtain any more of a euphoric feeling (or buzz) after reaching a blood alcohol content of 0.06; this is typically three drinks for a male and two drinks for a female.
Another key component of responsible drinking is to always have a plan. When it comes to drinking socially, many individuals focus on where they will drink, what they will drink and who they will drink with. However, it is crucial to have an idea prior to heading out for the evening, of what the plan of action will be for returning home safely, as well as setting limits for oneself.
For military members, there are many options to choose from when it comes to getting home safely. There’s the sober wingman or designated driver, a cab, programs such as Airmen Against Drunk Driving, and of course, first sergeants and commanders.
It’s not only good to have a plan, it’s wise to have more than one, just in case the first plan falls through. For this reason, there is no justification for a military member to be cited for driving under the influence.
While some commercials make it seem as though you will end up on a tropical beach or at a celebrity party every time you drink a specific alcoholic beverage, the fact of the matter is you may end up in a place far removed from the tropics if you don’t drink responsibly. The military’s zero tolerance position on irresponsible drinking is very clear; zero tolerance for underage drinking and zero tolerance for drinking and driving.
For those of us that are 21 and older, we are within our legal rights to go out and enjoy ourselves whether celebrating, decompressing or simply having a drink with dinner as long as we are responsible in doing so. So just like the ending of all alcohol commercials, “Please Drink Responsibly.”