FORT POLK, La. — The following is a situation people don’t want to think about — they’re laughing, having a drink and before they know it, they or someone they know crosses a line they never thought would be crossed. One minute everything seems fine, but suddenly a friend makes an unwanted sexual advance.

Did you know that, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, alcohol is involved in about half of all sexual assault incidents? In these situations, alcohol could be consumed by the offender, victim, or often, both.

Though alcohol does not cause sexual assault, it does affect the mind and body of people in a way that can lead to miscommunication of consent, or lack thereof, and increases the risk of sexual assault.

That’s why it is important to know what you can do to keep yourself and others safe while enjoying a few adult beverages.

What can you do?

• Own your limit — Everyone’s limit is different. If you are not sure of your limit or you’re worried about going over your limit, ask a friend to help keep you in check by telling you when to slow down or stop drinking. Later, you can return the favor.

• Drink with people you trust — remember though, even friends you trust can overstep boundaries when they are drinking.

• Slow down — think about how you feel as you are drinking. If you feel like you have had too much — you have. Slow down, drink some water, stop drinking or have a friend take you Caution-home.

• Have a plan and a back-up plan — things do not always go the way you plan. Make sure you have a safe way home or go to a trusted friend’s place.

• Trust your gut — If something doesn’t feel right, get out of that situation.

• Cut back — if you know that drinking puts you at risk for making decisions you can’t take back, it is OK to say no.

If you are impacted by sexual assault, get help 24/7 at the Department of Defense Safe Helpline or call (877) 995-5247 to talk to someone. April is Alcohol Awareness Month. For more resources about alcohol consumption and drinking responsibly, call your local Army Substance Abuse Program at 531-2031 or access the Department of Defense campaign website at < Caution- > .