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Navy  Policy  Regarding  Alcoholism

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Small amounts of alcohol produce a feeIing of well-being and light headedness. However, since alcohol is a depressant that slows down the central nervous system, those good feelings quickly wear off. Large amounts of alcohol over a long period of time cause anxiety. Just as with other dangerous drugs, alcohol may cause physical and psychological dependence. This dependence is an illness called alcoholism. The Navy’s age-old problem with alcohol is epitomized in the lyrics of an old drinking song, “What do you do with a drunken sailor?” Until the last few years, the answer was, You let him go down the hatch or down the tubes. For a long time we have contributed to the career demise of the alcohol abuser because of our own traditional involvement in alcohol use. We have not accepted the evidence that alcohol, although legal, is a drug that some people cannot handle. Until recently, alcoholism  was  considered  a  disciplinary  or administrative problem, which, if unresolved, could only lead to a discharge from the Navy. Navy Policy Regarding Alcoholism Various SECNAV and OPNAV instructions set forth Navy policy regarding alcoholism. Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Control OPNAVINST  5350.4B, provides the Navy’s policy on drug and alcohol abuse. The Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NADAP) uses this instruction as a guide. The Navy acknowledges its responsibility for counseling all members regarding the dangers of alcohol by providing information to help alcoholics recover. The Navy meets its responsibility by providing alcoholism treatment centers and specialized counseling. You share the responsibility of assisting the command in referring those who are alcoholic to treatment  facilities. Military members are responsible for their own drinking habits; if they believe they have an alcohol problem, they are responsible for seeking treatment. Each member remains accountable for any deterioration of performance caused by his or her own alcoholism. Firmly maintain and affirm the Navy’s drug and alcohol abuse policies as they relate to standards of behavior, performance, and discipline. Do not consider alcoholism, in itself, as grounds for disciplinary action; however, do evaluate a member’s demonstrated conduct resulting from the use or abuse of alcohol. Then, if needed, take disciplinary or administrative action as required. In each case, the appropriate action will depend upon the facts and circumstances. The Navy recognizes. that society has often associated a stigma with alcoholism that has little basis in fact and is counterproductive to successful rehabilitation. The effects of this stigma have reinforced the alcoholic’s or alcohol abuser’s denial of any problem. The effects of this stigma have also encouraged supervisory and medical personnel to cover up in an attempt to protect the member’s career. To bring the alcohol problem into the open where it can be treated, the Navy must reduce the effects of the stigma to the minimum. Members who have undergo successful alcohol treatment and recovery have the same job security and opportunities for continued service and promotion as other Navy members. However, any misconduct, misbehavior, or reduction in performance caused by alcohol will affect performance evaluations, duty assignments, continued service, job security, and promotion  opportunity. Because alcohol abuse involves the family of the abuser, the Navy encourages the development of programs and activities that contribute to a healthy family life. The Navy also encourages the development of programs to help restore to a healthy state those families who are suffering from the effects of alcoholism. Immediate members of the family of the alcohol-dependent  person  may  receive  those rehabilitation services available at their command. Persons must make their own decision to use or not to use alcoholic beverages lawfully. Department of the Navy policy toward alcohol consists of three courses of action. The first is to promote responsible attitudes about alcohol in those who choose to drink. The second is to promote the social acceptance of those who choose not to drink. The third is to provide both drinkers and nondrinkers with realistic information about alcohol and alcoholism. Understanding Alcohol and Its Effects Surprisingly, many experienced drinkers are relatively ignorant of the way their favorite beverages affect them, for better or worse. The same applies to their nondrinking families and friends who may be concerned about why drinkers behave as they do. Until recent years, when drinking problems forced public concern, little factual alcohol- and health-related information was available. Although people could find 3-15



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