OPINION: Substance abuse officer says ‘now is the time’ to help change alcohol culture

By Byron Goode | Fort Knox ASAPApril 10, 2024

FORT KNOX, Ky. — This April, the Fort Knox Army Substance Abuse Program is joining forces with the U.S. military to raise awareness among Soldiers, civilians, federal employees, contractors and families about National Alcohol Awareness Month issues.

Efforts began to take shape in 1987, when affiliates from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence mobilized an annual Alcohol Awareness Month campaign across America to provide understanding, education and resources on the cause of alcoholism, prevention strategies and treatment options for one of America’s largest health problems.

ASAP officer says ‘now is the time’ to help change the alcohol culture
Fort Knox ASAP officer Byron Goode says during this National Alcohol Awareness Month his goal is not to promote alcohol abstinence but instead responsible drinking and thoughtful planning. (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL

Know that I am not intending to try and provide answers to alcohol-related issues or attempting to deter anyone from using alcohol. My intent here is to start a cultural shift by generating conversations on responsible drinking, socializing without alcohol and making low-risk decisions.

Alcohol is often associated with celebrations, relaxation and a complimentary beverage for many of our favorite dishes. The dangers lie in not monitoring how much we drink, which often leads to a false sense that we are consuming at safe levels.

There is prevalent thinking dating back hundreds of years that alcohol must be present to have a good time. Therefore, it is socially acceptable and very common to see consumption of alcohol at many social gatherings, private parties, sporting events and more.

The fact remains, however; excessive use of alcohol greatly impacts the lives of many families.

According to a Feb. 29-updated article published at https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/features/excessive-alcohol-deaths.html, excessive alcohol use claimed over 178,000 deaths in the United States each year in 2020 and 2021. That equates to 488 deaths per day: a 29% increase from 2016-2017, when there were an estimated 138,000 deaths per year.

The article also reports that during each year, excessive drinking shortened lives by an average of 23 years. Two thirds – about 117,000 deaths – are due to chronic conditions from long-term use. One third, or about 61,000 deaths, contributed from drinking too much alcohol on one incident, such as motor vehicle accidents, poisonings and suicides.

ASAP officer says ‘now is the time’ to help change the alcohol culture
Goode offers several resources to help change the culture of alcohol. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of SAMHSA) VIEW ORIGINAL

Every year the misuse and abuse of alcohol claims several lives, careers, relationships, financial stability and health issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the
American economy spends about $249 billion annually on alcohol issues related to crime, lost work productivity and health care.

Many of us cannot relate to these claims; we cannot recognize alcoholism in others or identify the many problems associated with this issue. But we can’t allow that to become an excuse.

Now is the time to start conversations with our families, children, friends, coworkers and neighbors about low-risk alcohol use. Now is the time to change our culture about how we think and the choices we make when it comes to social drinking.

Make a plan to incorporate low-risk decisions when consuming alcohol. Choose non-alcoholic beverages if you have plans to drive or operate heavy machinery. Consume no more than two standard drinks daily with at least one hour between them.

This will prevent impairment issues and long-term health problems.

By practicing prevention, we can protect the things we value most. Identifying things that are important in our daily lives will assist in making those low-risk decisions. Simply put, if we fail to plan, then we should plan to fail.

Alcohol will not resolve the stressors we face in life. It does not have to lead to negative outcomes when consumed moderately with a nice meal. During this year’s Alcohol Awareness Month, decide to make a change – for you, and for others.


Editor’s Note: For more information on alcohol use, visit https://www.ownyourlimits.org/get-help, https://www.samhsa.gov, or the Fort Knox information page at https://homeadmin.army.mil/knox/application/files/2317/0198/1686/Community_Wellness_Resources_2023NOV28.pdf