Beware of the binge

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
I always enjoy starting an article with the cliché, "It's that time of year ..." It is, though. It is, in fact, that time of year to consider how you want to spend your summer.

It's the time of year for barbecues, beverage-filled coolers, beaches and bouncy castles. It's time for cozies and bathing suits, kiddie pools and lawn chairs, swimming and sunbathing.

It's also time for the 101 Critical Days of Summer, during which the Air Force generally sees a rise in incidents but aims for zero preventable fatal mishaps and an injury-free summer. Between 2002 and 2011, there were 201 off-duty and 17 on-duty fatalities during the Critical Days of Summer, according to the Air Force Safety Center website.

Along with reducing fatalities, another summer goal - rather, a year-long goal - is to reduce the number of alcohol-related incidents. One factor that accompanies those incidents is binge drinking.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is described as men drinking five or more and women drinking four or more drinks in a two-hour period.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states this behavior is also associated with unintentional injury, intentional injury, alcohol poisoning, circulatory system problems, liver disease and sexual dysfunction - but the list goes on and on with bodily issues that arise from binge drinking and alcoholism.

Sometimes it's heartrending to watch as someone cracks open beer after beer, or downs shot after shot only to become "That Guy" or "That Girl" by the end of the night. Those people stumble over their own feet, become excessively loud, slur words, pathetically hit on the uninterested and invade others' space.

It's likely we all know someone who has been or have been ourselves that person who embarrasses our Wingmen, and maybe it was luck that prevented that night from turning into trouble. But the lasting possibility for someone to make a decision that affects his or her career and life is enough reason to take a step back and consider. Consider the pros and cons of having an outrageous night that lands you praying to your porcelain, dehydrated and queasy. Consider the implications of the night that could save you a seat in front of your first sergeant or commander. Consider the outcome of that meeting and how it could change your professional image. Just take a second to consider.

Also consider the possibility of having an alcohol problem.

According to the Military Pathways website, "heavy alcohol use has increased among military members," and also "the rate for heavy alcohol use among young military males is approximately twice the rate of their civilian counterparts."

The effects of a rambunctious binge vary, from embarrassment to handcuffs and from family concern to work quality. So take that moment to consider whether or not it really is a good idea to drown your liver in an ethanol cocktail.

Knowledge is power. Know what you're doing to your body. Know how it will affect your life on and off duty. And know how to get help if you need it.

For more information, call the Incirlik Alcohol and Drug Prevention and Treatment clinic at DSN 676-6452.

Information is also available at