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Pendleton educates Marines on alcohol usage

Mar. 16, 2013 - 10:20AM   |  
Camp Pendleton, Calif., recently obtained a new tool called "Intoxiclock" that shows Marines how alcohol is metabolized in the body.
Camp Pendleton, Calif., recently obtained a new tool called "Intoxiclock" that shows Marines how alcohol is metabolized in the body. (Getty Images)
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What’s in a drink?

One standard serving of alcohol — or “standard drink unit” — is considered to be:
Beer: 12 ounces (5 percent alcohol)
Wine: 5 ounces (12 percent)
Liquor shot: 1.5 ounces (40 percent/80 proof)
But popular drinks, from a pint of beer to mixed summer concoctions, usually have more than a single serving of alcohol, and the total amount of alcohol consumed also can be higher depending on the size of the glass or container. These popular drinks can contain more than one standard drink unit:
Champagne: 1.4 SDUs
Lemon Drop: 1.5
Wine cooler: 0.8
Stout beer: 1.5
Bloody Mary: 2.0
Pina colada: 2.0
Margarita: 2.7-4.0
Mai Tai: 3.0
Source: “You Call the Shots,” Innocorp Ltd.

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — A late night of partying may leave some Marines and sailors intoxicated hours after they took their last gulp of alcohol. That possibility becomes more serious as the Marine Corps begins random sobriety checks as part of its new education campaign to deter binge drinking and alcohol abuse and nab Marines and sailors still drunk on duty.

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CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — A late night of partying may leave some Marines and sailors intoxicated hours after they took their last gulp of alcohol. That possibility becomes more serious as the Marine Corps begins random sobriety checks as part of its new education campaign to deter binge drinking and alcohol abuse and nab Marines and sailors still drunk on duty.

When mandatory random sobriety checks begin this summer, anyone who pops positive for alcohol — that’s a blood-alcohol content of just .01 percent — could be sent to the local substance abuse counseling center for more screening and may be sent to a treatment program.

Consolidated Substance Abuse Counseling Center officials at Camp Pendleton recently got a new tool called “Intoxiclock,” which shows in detail how alcohol metabolizes in a man or woman. They are using the tool as part of their “Prime for Life” campaign, said John Veneziano, director of the Consolidated Substance Abuse Counseling Center at Camp Pendleton.

Developed by Innocorp of Verona, Wis., the tool is built around a software program that calculates BAC levels through time, using variables including gender, weight and consumption rate.

Separating fact from fiction

Officials believe the tool will be an eye-opener to many who think they are not intoxicated after they have a few beers or mixed drinks.

“Nobody counts their drinks,” said Mindy Benfield, a substance abuse prevention specialist at Camp Pendleton. “You think you’ve had one drink. But how many shots go into that?”

Using Intoxiclock, substance abuse prevention specialists demonstrated the effects of alcohol in two scenarios involving a 185-pound man and a 120-pound woman who took their first drink, a beer, at 5 p.m. and had their second drink at 5:30 p.m. By then, the woman’s BAC went from .037 to almost .08, the legal limit.

At 6 p.m., each had consumed four drinks. The man showed a BAC of .07, and the woman nearly .17, twice the legal limit.

And according to Intoxiclock, if the woman stopped drinking alcohol after that fourth beer, she would not be completely sober until 4:48 a.m.

“Remember, she’ll be subjected to get a breathalyzer when she comes to work,” Cole said.

“Do you think she’s going to stop at four [drinks]?” he said. “Not likely.”

Marines who drink and then drive, even hours later, could find themselves facing a field sobriety test and being charged or arrested for driving under the influence while intoxicated.

“The fact remains is you can be charged with being under the influence behind the wheel at any measure,” Cole said. “The young Marines think, well I don’t reach that certain number.”

Marines too often “get a false sense of security. ‘I slept for three hours, I got up, I showered and I feel fine,’ ” said Veneziano, a retired master sergeant. “So they get in the car and drive to the base.”

“The point of this Intoxiclock is to educate the Marine,” he said.

Many of them don’t realize just how intoxicated they get. Cole recalled one female corporal who told him she’d downed four shots one evening but stopped by midnight and didn’t think she got drunk. So he ran her numbers through Intoxiclock, he said, and “she was well drunk until about noon the next day.”

“If it has the capability of removing you from your career path,” Cole said, “then it’s pretty serious.”

Camp Pendleton is the first Marine Corps customer for the Intoxiclock, but other military bases also are using the technology.

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