General Question

Jeruba's avatar

Is it possible to maintain sobriety while serving in any branch of the armed forces?

Asked by Jeruba (41912 points ) June 25th, 2010

Does anyone attempt this? Does anyone achieve it?

Or is there too much peer pressure and/or too much pressure from the nature of the job?

Is any branch worse than the others in this respect?

Is any support offered for sobriety? Is there any help if you fail?

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17 Answers

sleepdoc's avatar

I was able to do it. I was not a drinker before I joined and never drank while I was in.

DrBill's avatar

I never drank, was never tempted, never pressured.

I guess it depends on what kind of people you hang with.

Ron_C's avatar

I joined when I was 17 and not old enough to drink On my first liberty in Naples, Italy, I went out with the guys and got really drunk, then puked.

I found out that I hate puking more than I like drinking. I bought a bike and rode around Naples and down the coast of Italy. I saw more of the country and its people, no one tried to get me to buy drugs, and I had a great time. We ended up with a number of my shipmates with bikes and even had the guys with drinking problems as part of our group.

I’ve been out of the Navy for a number of years now but I would bet a person would find a lot of support if he truly wanted out of the crowd that only got drunk on liberty.

marinelife's avatar

I expect my nephew to continue not to drink when he goes into the Navy.

JLeslie's avatar

@jeruba Are you asking regarding someone who is an alcoholic, but has been dry? Or, are you asking if everyone in the service takes up drinking?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Of course.I know many people in the military who either don’t drink at all or do so in moderation.

Cruiser's avatar

Most front line soldiers I met wouldn’t think of dulling their senses during their tour or even on leave. The enlisted in the rear were the ones who told the stories of drunken soirees!

Jeruba's avatar

@JLeslie, I have in mind a young person who is a sober alcoholic and who is now considering directions, trying to figure out what to do. If the service is a path of difficulty with respect to sobriety, it might not belong on the list of possibilities.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba That is what I assumed from your question, but everyone was not answering with that premise so I was not sure. I think it would be tough to stay sober. Maybe it would depend on what caused him to drink previously? I don’t have any specific experience to answer your question though. The alcoholics I know who were or are service men; I have no idea if they were alcoholics before going into the service.

jerv's avatar

Contrary to popular belief, there are quite a few people in the military that don’t drink or smoke.

The Navy seems to be a little worse since not seeing land, women, or (for submariners especially) sunlight for long periods can lead people to party hard when they do hit shore and get a little time off. At least soldiers get land and sunlight, maybe a phone call; sailors often don’t have even that.

Peer pressure really has nothing to do with it. If you don’t drink, others are generally cool with you rocking on with your bad self.

Every command I’ve seen has an AA group at a minimum, though many of the people there are not exactly there of their own free will.

mrrich724's avatar

I would assume it’s like college (and like @DrBill said) the alcohol’s there, but if you aren’t part of “that” crowd, you don’t find the “need” to partake.

All depends on what group you hang out with.

Pandora's avatar

It is possible. When my husband was in the service the guys who didn’t drink where greatly appreciated. They were always the designated driver when they would hit the bars.
There was some peer pressure at times.
All the services offer alchol and drug rehab. However you can only qualify if you turn yourself in. Or at least that was the case 10 years ago. If you got busted for having drugs you faced a court martial and was kicked out. If you had a drinking problem and you were found out you may get counselled, written up, extra duty (punishment) and then you had to report to alcohol rehab. If that doesn’t take and you are found out, then you can be let out of the service with a dishonorable discharge. Unless you turned yourself in. Then I think you were given a little more slack.

CaptainHarley's avatar

The option for sobriety is always there, it just depends upon how strong you are as an individual.

mattbrowne's avatar

I served in the German army from 1981 to 1983.

I was sober the whole time. At the time I drank no more than 3 beers or 3 glasses of wine and only when there was a special occasion. Today my limit is 2 beers and 2 glasses of wine.

Bluefreedom's avatar

In my first eight years of service in the Army, I drank socially with fellow service members. I drank a little more during my tour in South Korea than in my first tour at Fort Drum, New York. In my last 14 years in the Air Force, I haven’t had a single drink the entire time. Part of that was that I just didn’t go out socially enough to want to drink and part of it was that I was diagnosed with diabetes 4 years ago and alcohol and diabetes don’t mix in any way, shape, or form.

My career field has been Military Police for my entire 22 years of military service and there were times when the stresses of the job were enough to want to make you want to have a drink or two or three after work to help you forget about or ease the burdens of the job. Being in the Air Force is easier than being in the Army so it is a different and less taxing environment and work load for me now. I haven’t experienced or witnessed any undue peer pressure during my time in the military when it comes to members consuming alcohol.

As far as one branch worse than others? I think there are definitely stereotypes out there such as sailors pulling into ports and drinking like fish while on shore leave. A few former Marines that I knew used to tell stories of their wild parties and lots of drinking they used to do. I’m sure that each and every service has a percentage of members that drink alcohol on a regular basis with some of them probably imbibing more than they should and maybe for various reasons.

As far as the Air Force is concerned, you can seek help from your chain of command for various problems in your life whether they be related to alcohol abuse, family matters, work related issues, and many other things. Individuals have the option of seeking assistance from a chaplain first if they want to retain some anonymity en route to setting up more long term assistance in solving their dilemmas and hopefully not causing serious detriment to their military careers if the situation is taken care of before it gets out of hand.

InkyAnn's avatar

My S/O is a Marine… He got plastered with his platoon or his fellow Marines every opportunity he/they got. I’ve met alot of other Marines since ivmet him and it was the same thing with them… Just sayin…

blaze626's avatar

ha hha haha . Many have tried, few have succeeded.

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