Editor’s note: The title is intentional and reflects the problem of getting people to read about alcohol awareness and risk-reduction education.
By the USAG Ansbach Army Substance Abuse Program
ANSBACH, Germany (April 25, 2016) – Alcohol awareness! Alcohol prevention! Army campaign! Ugh! Another mandatory training. Never a popular subject. Why bother? Alcohol is legal and really all about personal responsibility, right? Even commercials echo “Please drink responsibly.” Besides, people know when they’ve crossed the line. They “know their limits.” “I can handle it.” But do they or can they?
Prevention is, in large part, education. It is an effort to help individuals negotiate hazards inherent in any endeavor by giving them information. What are the pitfalls for alcohol? What is the environment? Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. Nearly 25 percent of all adults ages 18 and older admit to binge drinking in the past month.
So, what is binge drinking? Binge drinking elevates one’s blood alcohol content/blood alcohol level (BAC/BAL) to a .08 within two hours. A BAC level of .08 and above certainly relates to domestic violence, assaults and, obviously, driving under the influence. Heavy drinking is defined as drinking five or more drinks on five or more occasions during a 30-day period.
Awareness and education can have positive outcomes. Germany’s ADAC reported this year that informational campaigns and lowered legal alcohol limits have led to a drastic reduction in the number of injuries in alcohol-related traffic accidents. Furthermore, alcohol-related traffic accidents themselves have gone down in Germany from 51,593 in 1975 to 13,612 in 2014. Nonetheless, every 13th traffic fatality in Germany is alcohol-related. According to ADAC, on weekends every fifth accident with injury to persons, one of the drivers was drunk.
So what’s the takeaway here? How do we get the attention of folks who may make high-risk choices? The title of this article is meant to bait some into reading further. How can we prevent accidents and health problems? Information is one key element of effective prevention efforts. Knowing how one’s drinking compares to others in your own social group and the population as a whole can lead to positive changes, lower-risk choices, and a healthier and safer lifestyle. Alcohol awareness: a campaign to grab your attention, provide education and, ultimately, reduce risk.