Summer is just on the horizon and now that COVID restrictions are gradually lifting, social activities are about to be in full swing. Cue the barbeques, fishing/ boating trips, beach vacations, happy hours, and unfortunately, an increase in DUIs. The excitement of getting together with friends and loved ones can potentially cause us to let our guards down in more ways than one.

Fort Drum Army Substance Abuse Program Specialist Bill Van Orman stresses the importance of being vigilant and self-aware when attending celebrations or gatherings that include alcohol. He also stresses that anytime we are impaired we are at a higher risk for making poor choices. The only low risk option is to not get impaired; the goal is to not get drunk.

“From Memorial Day to Labor Day, we see a rise in high-risk behaviors or high-risk choices, likely due to alcohol being associated with so many summer activities,” said Van Orman.

He incorporates and addresses issues of alcohol or substance abuse during his trainings, while stressing the impact drinking can have on PT and overall wellness. He hopes to motivate young Soldiers by pinpointing the health aspects.

“You’re getting out of the Army with the body you have,” said Van Orman. “You decide how much damage you do to it.”

One of ASAP’s most effective training opportunities is the TRUST (Teamwork & Respect Unit Strength Training) sessions which strengthen teams and squads. Since the trainings were first developed, there has been a major focus on providing young leaders with soft skills and spending at least 2.5 hours on communication – how to listen to others, how to create an open environment, using “I” statements, etc.

“To be a good leader, you don’t have to know all of the answers, you just have to know where to find them,” said Van Orman.

Upon the completion of the soft skills training for leaders, teams and squads have an opportunity to participate in a 10-obstacle adventure course where leaders are given an opportunity to practice their newly learned skills.

Van Orman encourages Soldiers to use and share these tips when alcohol is included in social activities this summer:

1.      Most of us process one drink per hour. Pace yourself and have 1-2 drinks, spreading them out over a couple hours.

2.      Do not make alcohol the center point at your backyard barbecue or celebration this summer – take the focus off beer pong and place it on food items or other activities that do not involve alcohol.

3.      Drinking at home is NOT necessarily safer; there is a false sense of security when we drink at home because we believe drinking and driving is the worst offense. If you are a parent, remember you still must react to emergency situations. Being impaired puts children at risk.

4.      Accidents can still happen on the road if you are transporting people who are intoxicated and disorderly/unruly. Designated drivers should assess any situation carefully before putting intoxicated people in their car.

5.      Know how much you are drinking – take into consideration the amount of alcohol you are consuming; volume makes a difference; it all adds up. For instance, a 22-ounce beer at 7% alcohol volume is equivalent to two drinks. Just because it comes in one glass does not make it one drink – this especially goes for those who like to pour heavy drinks while at home.

6.      Be mindful of your alcohol consumption – be aware of how every drink changes your mind and body. Do not drink so much that you lose control of your mental capacities and start making poor judgements. Know how much is too much!

7.      And finally, if you feel as though your drinking has gotten out of hand, help is available. It is a sign of your strength to be willing to ask for help and to be open to receiving it.

To learn more, visit mil/substance/index.html