Advice for Keeping Substance Use Out of Summer Activities

By Shirley TienJune 23, 2023

Advice for Keeping Substance Use Out of Summer Activitie
Bill Van Orman, Fort Drum Army Substance Abuse Program educator, gives a tour of the mock barracks room and has 10th Mountain Division (LI) noncommissioned officers and officers conduct an inspection for contraband during a drug awareness class Aug. 22 at the ASAP facility. The Fort Drum Army Substance Abuse Prevention Program staff is working with U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division agents to provide this training that goes beyond the classroom. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: Michael Strasser) VIEW ORIGINAL

Summer is the best time to take part in outdoor activities and plan social gatherings, but it is also a dangerous time for substance misuse. Subject-matter experts from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, have some advice on the issue. According to Jason Mohilla, a specialist with the Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP), “Due to better weather, longer daylight hours and increased social/outdoor activity, risk of binge drinking and impairment increase. Impairment becomes easier to achieve due to dehydration, while use of antihistamines and other medications–even over the counter–can further impact the mind and body.”

You should be mindful of these three substances during the summer.

Alcohol Due to its accessibility and widespread social acceptance, alcohol is a prime candidate for misuse. It’s important to remember that if you plan to drink, do so in moderation and avoid binge drinking.

Marijuana This substance is becoming more prevalent as an ever-increasing number of states legalize it for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Marijuana and its cannabis derivatives, such as delta-8 THC (a byproduct of CBD), are often viewed as relatively harmless. It is important to remember that the Army still considers marijuana and its derivatives as illicit drugs and you can face disciplinary action if they show up in a drug test.

Medications Prescription, over-the-counter and counterfeit medications can be altered with drugs such as fentanyl and amphetamines. Prescription and over-thecounter drugs not taken as prescribed or directed can cause serious harm.

Experimenting is a hot topic within social settings, as is peer pressure. Employee Assistance Program coordinator Jenise Bryce says, “Do not experiment with drugs. Only take what has been prescribed to you. Check all packages to ensure they are sealed and labeled properly according to industry standard.” What many Soldiers aren’t aware of is that not everyone will react to recreational drugs the same way. Some may have fun and experience an adrenaline high, but others go straight to the hospital for immediate lifesaving care.

Another important factor to think about is that “often Soldiers consider the potential impact to their careers but fail to consider the afterservice ramifications that can include the loss of benefits, such as the post-9/11 GI Bill; loss of eligibility for security clearances; disqualification from entire career fields; and even restriction to possessing firearms and ammunition,” Mohilla says.

Of course, summer should be a time to put all your worries aside and let loose. ASAP specialist Vivian Jackson says to keep in mind that “some Soldiers that do not control their intake will become belligerent. They start acting like they have liquid courage and can take on the world, making severely impactful high-risk choices that could lead to disciplinary actions, being kicked out of the military, taking someone’s life or even their own life. All Soldiers should have the courage to seek help, but only some will. They should seek help or self-refer to Substance Use Disorder Clinical Care, without fear of reprisal.”

The Army Resilience Directorate encourages Soldiers and Family members to learn more about the Army Substance Abuse Program, as it is a great source for any substance information. We should always look forward to summer, but let’s make it a safe season for everyone!