FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. --
The Marine Corps Alcohol Screening Program was implemented Jan. 1, providing commanders a tool to identify and help Marines and sailors who may struggle with alcohol dependency and abuse.
The goal of the program is to deter service members from reporting to duty under the influence of alcohol and to help identify those who may need counseling or treatment for alcohol dependency or misuse.
As a result, Marines and sailors will be subject to random breathalyzer tests twice per year. If service members tests above a .01 percent blood alcohol level, they can be referred to a unit’s substance abuse counseling coordinator for screening and treatment as appropriate. If service members tests above a .04 percent blood alcohol level, they can be referred to medical for a “fit for duty” determination.
This tool was designed to enhance the force’s readiness, but can be used administratively too, if necessary, said Linda E. Love, substance abuse section head, Marine and Family Services Program, Headquarters Marine Corps.
“The program is primarily for deterrence and education, however, it does not preclude commanders from taking appropriate administrative action. Should a situation warrant to support commanders, (and) to ensure the safety and security of their unit or members, (actions can include) referral for fitness for duty determination and other administrative options,” said Love who is a licensed clinical social worker.
Love added this administrative action is necessary at times to keep the values the Marine Corps is built on from deteriorating.
“Alcohol abuse and misuse destroys the building blocks of morale, order and discipline,” Love said. “Using alcohol to an extent that it has an adverse effect on the user's health, behavior, family, community and/or the Marine Corps is considered alcohol abuse and/or misuse. The abuse and misuse of alcohol can also lead to unacceptable behavior as evidenced by one or more acts of alcohol-related misconduct.”
Love believes the implementation of the program should be looked at positively because it has the potential to get Marines with alcohol issues the help they need.
“This program also presents an opportunity for education and training, leading to prevention, for any Marine and sailor identified by the program as testing positive,” she said.
Substance Abuse Counseling Centers will have a role in providing Marines substance abuse help with a variety of services aimed at counseling and rehabilitation.
If a Marine fails a breathalyzer test, a screening and assessment will be performed to determine the appropriate level of action to be taken to counsel or rehabilitate the Marine.
Following an initial screening, Marines can enter at any level of care and move up or down the treatment continuum, depending on their clinical needs.
One level of treatment is a program called Early Intervention.
Early Intervention is intended for Marines who have some difficulty with alcohol, but who don’t have an established pattern of abuse. Early Intervention utilizes an evidence-based model of care called Prime for Life. Prime for Life is a 16-hour program designed to educate the Marine about the dangers of alcohol abuse and misuse.
Referrals into outpatient or intensive outpatient care are driven by the severity of the problem and response to treatment, which follows the American Society of Addiction Medicine patient placement criteria concept.
Love believes it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure Marines stay healthy and fit for duty.
“Leadership attention and Marine-to-Marine engagement at all levels of command are essential components when combating alcohol abuse and misuse,” Love said.
Marine Administrative Message 709/12 was released Dec. 12 and provides additional guidance for the implementation of the Marine Corps ASP. The MARADMIN can be found at: http://www.marines.mil/News/Messages/MessagesDisplay/tabid/13286/Article/135562/marine-corps-alcohol-screening-program.aspx