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Know your limits, know your options

Photos representing the legal limit for alcohol blood content are shown in prominent locations at Misawa Air Base, Japan. During the month of April, the 35th Medical Group’s mental health flight hosts events promoting responsible drinking and overall health education. (Photo illustration by Misawa Air Base)

Photos representing the legal limit for alcohol blood content are shown in prominent locations at Misawa Air Base, Japan. During the month of April, the 35th Medical Group’s mental health flight hosts events promoting responsible drinking and overall health education. (Photo illustration by Misawa Air Base)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- April marks an important month for the U.S. Air Force, focusing on a topic especially hot at Misawa AB: alcohol awareness.

Sometimes the key to success is in plain sight - simply being aware of options that are available can put things into perspective for Airmen who might be distressed.

This is where the 35th Medical Group's mental health flight steps in to assist Airmen in need.

"Air Force Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention is designed to promote readiness, health and wellness through the prevention and treatment of substance use and misuse," said Capt. Carrie Serjeant, 35 Medical Operations Squadron ADAPT program manager. "It's our goal to educate and treat individuals who experience problems related to their substance use and to return functioning service members to duty."

In a survey conducted by the Alcohol Education Project team based out of New York in 2015, approximately 99 percent of Misawa Airmen ages 18-24 believe it's inappropriate to consume alcohol to an excessive amount. Surveys like these and other programs offered to 35th Fighter Wing residents are designed to keep alcohol-related incidents to a minimum.

"Irresponsible alcohol use contradicts the 'whole Airman concept,' as it negatively affects duty performance, physical and mental health, and compromises the ability to make rational decisions," said Tech. Sgt. Jerome Selman, 35 MDOS NCO in charge of alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment. "Our team wants to prevent that as we focus more on the positive side of developing Airmen personally and professionally."

The ADAPT Outreach program is used to educate Airmen on how to work through their trouble and turn it into a positive situation.

An Airman from the 35th Maintenance Squadron who requested to be anonymous, sought help from the 35th MDG mental health specialists during his ordeal with alcohol, oftentimes binge drinking and even suffering health problems, and was able to take control of his life.

"During the summer of 2014, I was drinking so much I threw up blood," he said. "I finally couldn't take it and decided to get help, attended the ADAPT program here and haven't picked up a drink since. I never knew a person could receive this level of support."

One Airman from the 35th Security Forces Squadron who asked to remain anonymous, feels the programs available helped them through a difficult time.

"After attending some counseling sessions, they helped me re-evaluate my short and long-term goals and learn how to stay true to my values," he said. "I've also learned alcohol-related incidents don't define you and that you can bounce back from it."

Although April is nearing the end, safe practices like responsible drinking and behavior shouldn't, and Airmen are encouraged to seek assistance whenever they are in need.

"Alcohol Awareness month is important to our community as it reminds us of the hazards associated with alcohol consumption," said Staff Sgt. Augustine Thompson-Brown, 35 MDOS mental health technician. "We want Airmen to avoid any negative impacts as we encourage responsible drinking."

Before going out to drink, remember to make responsible decisions and to look after your wingmen.

For more information, please contact the mental health flight Outreach program at 226-2123.