ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- It depletes your body of essential nutrients, such as Vitamins B, C and K. It can cause stomach ulcers and internal bleeding. It is capable of rupturing blood capillaries and veins. It damages dendrites, the branched ending of nerve cells that bring messages into the cell, causing disruptions to brain function. It can cause men and women to become infertile. It can ruin or end lives. It can cause cirrhosis of the liver, leading to liver cancer. Yet people use it on a regular basis. Here in the United Kingdom, it is something that everyone can partake of at the age of 18. "It" is alcohol, and it is very dangerous.
Many know what drinks contain alcohol, but what is alcohol?
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that slows down bodily functions and can cause intoxication, unconsciousness or even death. It is involved in almost half of all suicides, murders and accidental deaths in the U.S., according to a pamphlet from The Bureau For At-Risk Youth.
Alcohol is very dangerous because people often tend to drink too much and not realize it.
It is a common misconception that real cases of binge drinking are viewed as acceptable "social drinking" situations. Many people do not realize that they are binge drinking because they do not know what binge drinking is.
While there is no strict medical definition of what binge drinking is, the Office of National Statistics defines heavy drinking as eight or more units of alcohol per day for men, and six or more for women. Many experts and institutions now use this as a rule-of-thumb definition of binge drinking.
Furthermore, binge drinking is becoming a serious problem here in the United Kingdom.
Based on a special report from the Daily Mail newspaper, binge-drinking is getting out of control in Britain. One in four adults in Britain are binge drinkers and the U.K. recently topped a poll as Europe's heaviest alcohol consumers.
Many binge drinkers do not realize that they are drinking excessively because they do not know what "one drink" is considered to be.
According to www.healthchecksystems.com , a drink is considered to be: 4-5 ounces of wine, 10 ounces of wine cooler, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.25 ounces of distilled liquor.
Binge drinking is not the only danger of alcohol. Alcohol can also have adverse effects on the lives of people around you. Alcohol users can cause grief for their families and can endanger their lives and the lives of others if they decide to operate a vehicle while intoxicated.
"The biggest potential impact on an Airman is the increased chance of serious injury or even death. Professionally, DUI is a crime and is dealt with accordingly," said Master Sgt. Barry Godfrey, 748th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant.
Being charged for driving under the influence is a very serious charge.
"A DUI has a huge impact on an Airman's career. Commanders work hard to educate all Airmen on the career impact a DUI has. More importantly they educate on the potential risks associated with DUIs, not only to the Airman but also to others driving the same roads", said Sergeant Godfrey.
Although the U.K. uses the metric system unlike the U.S., the legal limit for alcohol consumption and driving are the same.
According to British law, any person who is driving, attempting to drive, or in charge of a motor vehicle on the road or in a public place may be required by the police to provide a breath test, to ascertain whether they are over the prescribed limit of alcohol - 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 milliliters of breath (or 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood).
If a breathalyzer test is failed, fines, jail time and disqualifications to the driver's license can follow. The results of driving or attempting to drive while intoxicated can result in a fine of £5,000 and/or six months imprisonment, a mandatory disqualification of license for 12 months if it is the first offense and 3 years for a second offense within 10 years of the first offense.
The penalties of drunk driving can be detrimental to one's career. Demotions, embarrassment, additional duty and job loss are just a few things that could happen to a person that has been charged with a DUI. It can be even worse for a military member.
"On the military side, many actions, mostly administrative in nature, are at a commander's disposal. Demotion, possible discharge, loss of promotion line number, referral Enlisted Performance Report, ineligibility to test for promotion and orders to move into dormitories could result. In the current era of force shaping, depending on circumstances, an airman's career may be cut short even if they are retained in the Air Force", said Sergeant Godfrey.
There are numerous dangers of drinking alcohol in excess, but there are also several ways to drink responsibly.
Ensure that there is a plan, whether it is to take a cab home or have a designated driver. Verify that the designated driver will not and has not drank any alcohol when it is time to go home. Just in case, be sure to have additional cash and a cab number on hand in the event that the designated driver does not remain sober. If the cab or designated driver plan falls through, there is still Airmen Against Drunk Driving, which can be reached by calling 08003 280 178.
One should also know their limit. Excessive alcohol intake can lead to unconsciousness and blackouts. In other cases, alcohol poisoning can ensue, resulting in the drinker having to undergo gastric lavage, commonly known as a stomach pumping. This involves a tube being forced down the throat to the stomach and then a pump will remove all the contents of the stomach. This process can result in a very sore throat for several days afterwards.
When using alcohol, be responsible, abide by the laws and help keep friends and families safe.