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News > Feature - ADAPT program helps kick alcohol dependency
ADAPT program helps kick alcohol dependency

Posted 12/15/2006   Updated 12/14/2006 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Donald Osborn
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

12/15/2006 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The holiday season is the time of year where family and friends usually gather together to celebrate their choice of a religious day as well as bringing in the New Year.

Whatever the reason for the season, the overuse of alcohol can turn a celebration into a tragedy.

The Air Force has a program designed to combat the abuse of alcohol, whether it's for binge drinking during special occasions or for a long-term battle with this disease.

The Air Force Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program is comprised of substance abuse prevention, education and treatment, which include urinalysis testing.

"The ADAPT program is just one part of a much larger focus the Air Force places on promoting healthy lifestyles," said Lt. Col. Richard DeLeon, 60th Medical Operation Squadron ADAPT Program manager. "The Air Force values its members. This is precisely why there are numerous support programs offered by the Chapel, the Airman and Family Readiness Center, Life Skills, Military OneSource, Outdoor Recreation, etc."

The goal of these support services is two-fold; first to ensure our members maintain the highest state of readiness and second, to ensure our Air Force family has the resources to maximize their quality of life.

By helping active duty members and their families utilize the numerous available support systems, these services help develop and enhance appropriate coping skills while offering meaningful healthy outlets for stress.

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of individuals who need it seek help from one of these support services on their own.

"Most individuals are referred to our program after an alcohol or illegal substance-related incident occurs," said Colonel DeLeon.

"Only about five to 10 percent of our clients "self-refer" because they realize their use has gotten out of hand," the colonel added.

The biggest hurdle for most people is getting past the stigma and false belief that getting help will ruin their career.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," said Staff Sgt. Hollie Cuevas, 60th Medical Operation Squadron ADAPT manager. "In fact, most people who do not seek help eventually have career difficulties specifically because their problem becomes unmanageable as a result of not seeking help."

"On the other hand, the vast majority of individuals who seek help and genuinely work to manage their alcohol problem find they actually enhance their career as a result," Sergeant Cuevas added.

The holidays are both a time of celebration and increased stress, especially for the families with deployed members.

There are more parties and events where alcohol is served this time of year and most times that translates to more opportunities for trouble.

While most people use alcohol appropriately in social settings with family and friends, some may find themselves turning to alcohol or other drugs as a means to cope with stress and holiday pressures.

"Over the past 10 to 15 years, the Air Force has done a great job of deglamorizing alcohol abuse and focusing on responsible decisions," said Colonel DeLeon. "Programs like Airmen Against Drunk Driving and other designated driver programs have saved countless lives.

Also, by making it "OK" for those struggling with alcohol abuse to seek assistance, leadership has helped foster a 'Culture of Responsible Choices' by making it "OK" to get help, he added.

For those wanting to seek help, but are afraid to take that first step, here is some advice from the ADAPT staff:

Take advantage of the amazing services you have available and get the help you need.

While you may be worried about a perceived impact on your career, there are other more permanent facets to your life including family, physical and mental health, recreational activities, spirituality and your overall quality of life, which will be destroyed by an untreated substance abuse problem.

"Each year Airmen, family members or loved ones put themselves in a position where they overuse alcohol," said Col. Steve Arquiette, 60th Air Mobility Wing commander.

"If this happens to someone close to you, I encourage you to use the Wingman concept to reach out and get them the help they need before it's too late."

"The Air Force has programs and people who care, so no one should have to fight this battle alone," he added.

For the most part, people who have participated in ADAPT programs have learned a lot about themselves, dramatically enhanced their quality of life and improved their ability to make responsible choices.

"Our most effective "marketing" tool has been word of mouth success stories by peers, co-workers and individuals in leadership roles," said Sergeant Cuevas.

If you need help or just have questions, call the ADAPT staff at 423-2348.

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