Back to Top Skip to main content

To drink, or not to drink

If you are battling substance abuse, consider attending an alcohol-free holiday party or host your own alcohol-free small gathering If you are battling substance abuse, consider attending an alcohol-free holiday party or host your own alcohol-free small gathering (U.S. Air Force file photo)

Recommended Content:

Substance Abuse

Parties and special occasions usually involve games, music, and alcoholic beverages. They are times of festivity and fun. For someone concerned about alcohol intake or battling substance abuse, social events may seem threatening. But it is possible to participate in activities that include alcohol.

Get the Facts about Risky Drinking

The first step to understanding your alcohol limits is to know the facts, signs, and symptoms about alcohol abuse. The Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE) gives examples of alcohol misuse and facts about risky driving:

  • Drinking more or for a longer time than you intend
  • Continuing to drink even though it makes you feel depressed or anxious
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when you don’t drink
  • Experiencing interference with daily activities, family, friends, and work
  • Having to consume more drinks than you once did to get the same effect

Set Your Limits

If you’re not practicing abstinence, but want to be mindful of your drinking behavior, there are ways to set limits. Tracking your daily drink intake may be a helpful way to manage substance use, but can be difficult to practice in social situations. Before going to the party, have a plan and remember to be S.M.A.R.T:

  • Specific. Set a drink type and number limit for yourself. If you decide to drink a beer, ask yourself what type of beer, stick to that brand and style, and don’t go over your limit. Every alcohol beverage has a different alcohol content, which changes your body’s response.
  • Measurable. Understand how your body processes alcohol to determine your specific limitations. Look at the standard drink calculator to see how different types of drinks will affect your body.
  • Attainable. Is your goal realistic for your lifestyle? Set a goal that you are confident and positive about achieving.
  • Relevant. Ask yourself if your goal applies to your current surroundings. If you are at a wine-tasting event, know how much wine is enough for you.
  • Time-based. Set a drinking cut-off time and length of time between each drink. Determine how many drinks is a safe number for you.

Choose Your Surroundings

Choosing your surrounding can be the best way to combat pressure. If you are battling substance abuse, consider attending an alcohol-free holiday party or host your own alcohol-free small gathering. Suggest ideas to the host that don’t involve drinking. Fun ideas include:

  • Karaoke
  • Board, card and trivia games
  • Dance competitions
  • Holiday-themed relays
  • Arts and crafts
  • Gift exchanges

It’s also OK not to go to a party if you feel it could harm your sobriety. When it’s impossible to avoid functions with alcohol, make sure you have a way to leave if you’re feeling uncomfortable. Share that you’re limiting your drinking or not drinking at all. Purposefully voicing your concerns can help eliminate potential peer pressure to join or overindulge in drinking.

On-the-go Support: Mobile Apps

There are several mobile apps that can help you assess and manage your alcohol use. Some mobile apps can help you learn healthier ways to cope with certain triggers, such as stress. Here a few to consider:

  • Pier Pressure, developed by Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, offers resources to help practice responsible drinking behaviors in real life to include: a blood alcohol content (BAC) calculator; calorie and alcohol content calculators for beer, wine, spirits and popular cocktails; safe drinking tips; and direct access to local taxi searches and popular ride-sharing apps
  • VetChange, developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, is for veterans and service members who are concerned about their drinking and how it relates to post-traumatic stress after deployment, and for all people who are interested in developing healthier drinking behaviors.
  • Learn about more DHA mobile apps, developed by the Connected Health branch, such as Virtual Hope Box, LifeArmor, and Breathe2Relax on the mHealth Clinical Integration webpage.

Learn More from Online Resources

You can overcome substance abuse by knowing the facts, sticking to your goals, informing others of your intentions, having good support, and creating a positive environment for long-lasting change.

You also may be interested in...

CBD oil off limits for service members

Article
1/23/2020
A service member checks the label on a supplement. Service members must remain diligent and check labels on consumer products and follow official guidance on CBD products. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

The use of CBD products is prohibited for use by service members

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Substance Abuse

Air Force warns Airmen of e-cigarette risks

Article
12/16/2019
An Airman holds an electronic cigarette at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating the more than 2,000 cases of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury that have occurred across the country. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erica Crossen)

Many e-cigarette products have a higher concentration of nicotine

Recommended Content:

Substance Abuse | Tobacco-Free Living

Don’t die for the high: Fentanyl kills

Article
12/11/2019
Due to the increasing relevance of the drug, the Department of Defense added fentanyl and its metabolite, norfentanyl to all service Drug Demand Reduction Program drug tests. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

Fentanyl is up to 100 times stronger than morphine

Recommended Content:

Substance Abuse

DoD adds fentanyl to drug testing panel

Article
11/22/2019
An Airman from the 436th Air Wing inspects a bottle before being asked to provide a urine sample November 8, 2019. The DoD has a zero tolerance policy for the illegal or improper use of drugs by service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm)

Fentanyl is an opioid, similar to heroin

Recommended Content:

Substance Abuse | Armed Forces Medical Examiner System

Health agencies investigating severe lung illnesses linked to e-cigarette use

Article
9/12/2019
"While the CDC investigation of the possible cases of lung illness and deaths reportedly associated with the use of e-cigarette products is ongoing, Service members and their families or dependents are encouraged not to use e-cigarette products,” advised Dr. Terry Adirim, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Services Policy and Oversight. (DoD photo)

Thirty-three states report 450 possible cases, six deaths

Recommended Content:

Tobacco-Free Living | Substance Abuse | Public Health

Breaking the pain cycle

Article
4/9/2019
Ashley Blake, an acupuncture nurse at Naval Hospital Pensacola’s Pain Management Clinic, treats a patient with Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA), one of many opioid alternatives offered at many treatment facilities in the Military Health System. BFA consists of inserting five tiny and sterile 2 mm needles into specific points of the ear where they can remain for up to three days. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brannon Deugan)

Live in agony or risk addiction? MHS pain management initiatives offer options

Recommended Content:

Prescription Monitoring Program | Mental Wellness | Mental Health Care | Substance Abuse | Physical Disability | Warrior Care | Opioid Safety | Pain Management

Drug-monitoring innovations help providers help their patients

Article
8/6/2018
Two Military Health System innovations are helping to ensure best practices for patients with pain, and for patients who’ve been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Curt Beach)

Focus is on management of pain and PTSD

Recommended Content:

Innovation | Substance Abuse | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Pain Management | Opioid Safety

There is hope

Article
7/12/2018
Medically assisted treatment for opioid use can break the cycle of addiction.

More than 350,000 deaths are attributed to opioid overdoses nationwide since 1999

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Substance Abuse | Addiction | Mental Wellness | Opioid Safety

Life without liquor

Article
6/29/2018
There are 2.5 million alcohol-related deaths worldwide each year, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. (Courtesy photo)

One service member’s story of how he overcame a drinking problem

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Substance Abuse

Progress in preventing opioid abuse, more needs to be done

Article
6/26/2018
Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Pick, with the 66th Security Forces Squadron, holds a nasal applicator and naloxone medication vial at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts. Naloxone is one of several medications designed to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Hanscom was the first Air Force installation to issue the drug to law enforcement personnel under permission of the base commander. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Herlihy)

The Military Health System has a shared responsibility in addressing the nation’s opioid epidemic

Recommended Content:

Substance Abuse | Pain Management | Opioid Safety
Showing results 1 - 10 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing | Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.