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Thread: Drugs And Alcohol Abuse
08-23-06, 01:01 PM #1
Drugs And Alcohol Abuse
Drugs And Alcohol Abuse
I read this about two weeks ago and didnt post because most of the time a story like is reposted a dozen times ,well this time it wasnt so this is a little different from the first, The first applied to both the Navy and Marine Corps bases on the west coast.
This one only relates to Navy but as they say we are part of the Navy
(THE MENS DEPARTMENT)
READ AND TAKE HEED
Navy Region Southwest cracks down on heavy drinking, DUI
By William H. McMichael
Navy Region Southwest has launched a crackdown on excessive drinking, issuing strict new guidelines for sailors on alcohol consumption and administrative punishments for those who fail to follow the rules. And within weeks, the region will begin slapping a one-year ban on base driving privileges for sailors, Navy civilians or anyone else with base access — including family members — who get caught drinking and driving, no matter where.
The combination of social engineering and get-tough policy is the doing of Rear Adm. Len Hering, the region’s commander, who has grown increasingly concerned over statistics showing that alcohol fuels most violent crime incidents within the region that involve sailors, as it does throughout the Navy. Hering also is concerned about what he described as alcohol’s negative impact on operational readiness.
The region includes every Navy base in California and Nevada, from the immense San Diego Navy complex to major naval air stations in Lemoore, Calif., and Fallon, Nev. The new guideline and coming DUI policy would potentially affect 178,000 sailors, students, Navy civilians and contractors, and 63,477 family members, on 10 bases in California and Nevada.
The region’s new “0-0-0-1-3” policy, Hering said July 27, is an effort to more sharply define, for commanders as well as sailors, the concept of “responsible consumption” called for in Navy alcohol abuse prevention policy. The numbers represent zero drinks for those under 21, zero drinks when driving, zero drinks while on duty, one drink per hour and three drinks per night. Violators of any of the three rules could be subject to non-judicial punishment, spokesman Capt. Matt Brown confirmed.
Underage drinking is clearly against the law, Hering said. Drinking and driving don’t mix, particularly for designated drivers, for whom “there is no responsible consumption of alcohol.” While being drunk on duty is a violation of military law, Hering wants no drinking or hangovers on duty whatsover, he said, “because I absolutely will not tolerate individuals consuming alcohol and placing at risk a sailor’s life in the process of decision.”
The “1-3” portion of the policy, on the other hand, is simply a guideline young sailors can use to determine “responsible use” – or, if they see someone overindulging, to be a “good shipmate” and either provide counsel or help the person seek treatment – rather than grist for punishment, Brown said.
One drink an hour, Hering said, is an acceptable rate of consumption; states and universities generally agree, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says blood-alcohol content varies by body weight. But a 200-pound man and a 120-pound woman, for instance, could each have three drinks in three hours and still test below the national blood-alcohol limit of 0.08.
However, Hering said, “I think if you have more than three drinks a night on a regular and consistent basis, you’ve got a problem. And we need to address that problem early.”
Working with off-base authorities
Hering didn’t specify what sort of punishments sailors violating the “0-0-0” policy might receive, saying that would amount to the exercise of undue command influence. “But I do expect that those individuals who are in charge to make absolutely certain that they hold those individuals accountable and instill, within their units, that level of understanding,” Hering said.
The region is thought to be the first in the Navy to adopt such a policy, said Zona Lewis, a spokeswoman for Navy Installations Command in Washington, D.C.
The new policy on driving while intoxicated, or DUI, will be implemented “within the next couple weeks,” he said July 27. While other penalties could apply, particularly outside a base’s gates, he said there will be no ambiguity about losing the ability to drive on base. “If you are stopped and have been drinking and violating my second ‘zero’ rule, I will administratively remove your privilege to drive on my facility,” Hering said.
In addition, Hering is going to work with local police departments in an effort to catch those charged with DUI outside installation gates. Officials say when this happens, sailors often get by without their commands learning about the DUI because there’s typically no reporting mechanism in place, allowing the charged sailor to escape any Navy repercussions.
“We are checking police blotters and doing all the necessary things to make sure that those individuals who are stopped outside the fence line are held accountable by their commands,” Hering said. “We are starting to make absolutely certain that we collect that data.” Administrative action, to include notification of a sailor’s command, would then follow.
Hering said the region will also continue to promote the Navy’s “Right Spirit” campaign, which employs educational and interventional programs aimed at deglamorizing alcohol and drug use.
The new policy comes as big Navy considers a new alcohol abuse prevention policy that would require similar one-year driving bans on installations. The proposed policy, now being vetted by senior officials, would also require that sailors report off-base incidents to their commands, require commanders to punish underage sailors caught drinking, require that DUIs be noted in evaluations and fitness reports and mandate separation for those found guilty of a second DUI.
Drug and alcohol program advisers — sailors given the collateral duty during their assignment to a given command — receive periodic training on how to establish working relationships with local law enforcement agencies and regularly query them for information on DUIs involving sailors, according to William Flannery, branch head of the Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention program.
Hering announced the new “Triple-Zero One-Three” policy July 17 during a regional drug and alcohol abuse prevention conference in San Diego. He said it’s largely borrowed from the Air Force, where the basic concept has become policy on at least two bases and is being considered service-wide. Navy alcohol and drug abuse prevention officials also are promoting the idea.
Hering, who pointed out that he is “not a teetotaler,” wants to change not only current behavior but the culture of drinking in the region. “Nothing good happens after midnight,” he explained. “And most of the time, it involves alcohol. How do we get to the point where individuals begin to realize that, `You know, I can have a good time with three drinks a night — and still enjoy myself and be a responsible adult’?”
Hering said the region’s alcohol abuse problems are no greater than those in the civilian world. But, he said, “Our demographics are clearly those who are greatest at risk — the 21- to 26-year-olds. We’re no different than anybody else. We just live in an environment where people make life-and-death [decisions] all the time.
“Alcohol’s always been a problem,” he added. “It always will be a problem. We just need to work at how we grow a new group of volunteers who we would like to stay in this profession and not be tied to alcohol.”
Hering is no stranger to alcohol and drug cases — during the past seven years, he’s served as commanding officer of San Diego Naval Base, Navy Region Northwest and, since July 29, 2005, the Southwest Region — and said he’s been working on the new approach for the past eight months. But he said an incident that took place at San Diego Naval Station in recent months “emblazoned in my mind the need to become more focused” on the alcohol abuse issue.
Hering said a civilian ID card holder was stopped in her vehicle at the base’s main gate on a weeknight and given a breathalyzer test. The woman’s blood-alcohol content, he said, was 0.34. The legal limit in the U.S. is 0.08.
“And I said to my folks, `That’s impossible,’ ” Hering said, assuming that a person that drunk would be comatose. He ordered a re-check of the instrument and the report, but the content figure was accurate. Hering said he consulted with a Navy doctor who told him, “Sir, that is an alcoholic. A severe alcoholic. That is a person who has been consuming alcohol for such an extent that their body has built up a tolerance to that level.”
Experts declined to calculate how much the woman would have had to drink, citing numerous variables such as how much food she may have eaten. But according to an online calculator prepared by the University of Oklahoma Police Department, a 120-pound female who consumed eight shots of liquor in an hour would have a BAC of roughly 0.27; a BAC of 0.35, the department says, is equal to “the level of surgical anesthesia.”
According to region spokesman Brown, a total of 12 DUIs were recorded at San Diego’s four Navy bases during July, all of them recorded at the base gates. Seven of the cases involved sailors; civilians were charged in the other five.
Hering also wondered how many sailors drink to excess yet go without help, even if their problems are obvious to their shipmates. How often, he said, do sailors stand at quarters, “and the individual next to you reeks of alcohol because of their irresponsible consumption the night before,” and no one says or does anything about it?
“That’s the mindset we need to change, from the E-1 up,” Hering said. “The Triple-Zero One-Three policy now defines for them what we should tolerate and still be in an environment where I can trust my life or my son’s life or my daughter’s life to their judgment.”
Hering said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mullen “has asked us to become, as flag officers, engaged” on the issue. “And I’m engaging.”
On the web:
• Calculate your blood alcohol concentration
• Listen to ‘Think B-4-U Drink’ (T.B.Y.D.)
• Listen to ‘It's All Over Now’
William H. McMichael is the Hampton Roads bureau chief for Navy Times. Reach him at (757) 223-0096.
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