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Alcohol and Drug abuse prevention and treatment

There are many options available to Airmen who are going through a rough time. Seek out a chaplain, a Military Family Life Consultant at the Airman and Family Readiness Center or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255. “Admitting to yourself that you need help is one of the most difficult but beneficial things you could do,” said Airman 1st Class Alexander, a 49th Medical mental health technician at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. “Remember that suicide doesn’t end the pain, it just passes it off to someone else.” (Last names are being withheld due to operational requirements. U.S. Air Force illustration by Senior Airman Aaron Montoya)

There are many options available to Airmen who are going through a rough time. Seek out a chaplain, a Military Family Life Consultant at the Airman and Family Readiness Center or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255. “Admitting to yourself that you need help is one of the most difficult but beneficial things you could do,” said Airman 1st Class Alexander, a 49th Medical mental health technician at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. “Remember that suicide doesn’t end the pain, it just passes it off to someone else.” (Last names are being withheld due to operational requirements. U.S. Air Force illustration by Senior Airman Aaron Montoya)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

“Thank goodness it’s Friday! As soon as I am able to leave work I am going to put on some decent clothes and head over to my friend’s house, have a drink and forget about this week.”

A common thought for many people in the United States.

What many people may not realize is this thought can become a reoccurring behavior that develops into something much more dangerous.

“There is a national problem with alcohol and substance abuse,” said Capt. Kyra Santiago, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Treatment program manager. “If people are having issues with alcohol, then they need to have a program that can help get them treatment.”

Providing treatment for individuals is exactly why the Air Force offers ADAPT to its active duty Airmen.

“Our program is here to help all Airmen, officer and enlisted,” said Tech. Sgt. Jonathon Cooper, 49th Medical Operations Squadron, Mental Health flight chief. “Our goal is to assess and provide tools to those who may be struggling with substance abuse and support them to move forward.”

It is not uncommon for ADAPT to receive a patient that may not necessarily require enrollment in the program.

“Most of the people that come to the ADAPT program don’t require treatment or enrollment,” Santiago said. “They just need education services to understand what binge drinking is, what responsible drinking is, and how to turn risky behaviors into responsible ones.”

However, there are still cases for individuals that need more support.

“What we typically find with alcohol use disorders is the individual themselves may not realize that their family life or job performance is being impacted,” said Santiago. “Maybe they have an alcohol related incident or maybe there were some problems that they couldn’t identify, but once they come into the program the feedback that we get is that people become more productive, motivated and driven; their family life has definitely improved.”

For many people suffering from alcohol or substance abuse disorders, it may not always be obvious to them how much they are suffering.

“Some people present to the clinic in denial,” Santiago said. “When they first come in they don’t really think that they have a problem but after they sit down and talk to a technician they start to see that maybe it is more problematic than they thought.”

Identifying that there may be a problem is the first step along the road to recovery for anyone experiencing risky behaviors or abuse disorders. It is equally important to understand warning signs, to identify when reoccurring behaviors may be turning into something worse.

“If you are suffering from hangovers, if you are drinking more and more often, or if you are binge drinking, that is a sign that you are on the way to a drinking disorder,” Santiago said. “If signs of feeling hungover follow you deep into the week, or if it is interfering with your job in the slightest bit, those are all signs that you may need a little bit more support or help.”

There are several ways to get help with alcohol or substance abuse.

“We are here Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,” Santiago said, “but if someone is having an issue after hours we urge you to call your first sergeant, or if you are in a crisis call 9-1-1, and if you are in need of detox services go to your nearest Emergency Room.”

It is important to get help for these issues as soon as possible, before it interferes with personal or work life.

“We don’t want people with undiagnosed alcohol use disorders showing up to work hungover or possibly intoxicated,” Santiago said. “Then you are not only putting your life on the line, but the lives of many others as well.”

If you are an active duty military member at Holloman Air Force Base, and think you may have or may be developing an alcohol or substance abuse disorder contact your first sergeant or the ADAPT office at (575)572-5676. If you have a medical emergency call 9-1-1.