Smashed Vs. Social

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Shane Sanders
  • 8th Security Forces Squadron first sergeant
Airman Curious: "What are you doing this weekend?"

Airman Goodtimes: "I'm getting smashed!"

Wolf Pack, I'm guessing we've all heard this before. Good, bad or indifferent, alcohol is entrenched in our military culture. I'm not going to say you shouldn't drink.

I enjoy it like the next guy - and not to be a hypocrite, have overindulged on occasion earlier in my career. However, I would like to share some of the lessons I have learned through my own experiences and, as a first sergeant, the experiences of others as well as discuss getting "smashed"--aka binge drinking- a little more.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines binge drinking as five or more drinks in one sitting for men or four or more drinks for women. However, the CDC found that more than 38 million Americans nearly double that by drinking an average of eight drinks at least four times a month (I'm guessing Friday and Saturday nights).

So what's the big deal, right? Why not get "faded" on the weekend? Here's why.

It's a bad for your health.
According to CDC, people who binge drink put themselves at increased risk for liver disease, certain cancers, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies. Moreover, drinking is the main factor behind the U.S.'s third leading preventable cause of death, with more than 80,000 fatalities a year!

It's bad for your wallet.
A person that buys eight drinks every Friday night, at a conservative average of $3.50 per drink, spends a grand total of $1,500 during a yearlong tour here at the Wolf Pack. For those who routinely do this Friday and Saturday night, make it $3000! That's a lot of money to spend with nothing to show for it.

It's bad for your career.
According to CDC, binge drinking increases your chances of being involved in violence. Additionally, the results of the Core Institute Alcohol and Drug survey for 2006 to 2008 showed that 78.9 percent of all sexual assaults involved alcohol consumption. And here at Kunsan, 109 Article 15s were administered in 2011.

And what were some of the top offenses? You could've guessed it; assault, underage drinking and drunk and disorderly. And who knows how many Airmen have been affected by letters of reprimand, unfavorable information files, control rosters, referral enlisted performance reports, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT) referrals, cancelled follow-on assignments, etc.

It's bad for your belly.
If you go out and drink eight beers, that's 768 calories. No biggie -- you can reconcile that with a quick seven-mile run! Or if you're more of a Jack and Coke kind of guy or gal, double it. That's more than 1,400 calories for eight of those! Feeling nervous about that upcoming PT test? Alcohol may have something to do with it.

So why are we doing it? Hard to say I suppose, given all the downsides. But, like I said up front, I like having a drink too. In my mind, you can't beat an ice cold beer after work.

Having a couple of drinks while socializing with friends or unwinding after a long week is pretty nice ... but eight? At that amount I think the enjoyment of the taste and relaxation is traded for crossed eyes, slurred speech and a rocking headache in the morning.

Try this one Friday or Saturday night. Stay sober and just people watch. You will end up shaking your head in wonderment at the actions of our "smashed" comrades in "A-Town" or in the Community Activity Center between 2 and 4 a.m. Remember, if you are a binge drinker, then that was probably you last weekend.

Wolf Pack, enjoy your time here, but remember there isn't much to enjoy when we drink too much.