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A Message to Military Members

How to tell when drinking is becoming a problem

During my first enlistment in the military, I thought that alcohol was a way to earn my place in the organisation. In my view, it seemed to be a rite of passage to the next rank or completion of certain schools. But more often than not, it was just a way to pass the time in a nowhere post. I felt it was even acceptable to show up to PT (physical training) reeking of booze consumed the night before, just as long as I didn’t fall out.

Gradually, other soldiers grew out of that phase and transitioned into new leadership roles or got out and moved on with their lives. Unfortunately, I became stuck in the party well after it should have ended. General red flags were being passed by for promotion, finances were in disarray; and receiving administrative action that was always connected with alcohol in some way. However, I’ve heard others say that they can maintain all the appearances of success in their personal and professional life but still feel a deep emptiness which they fill with booze. I wasn’t able to do that.

When did it become a “problem”? I was asked two questions when I first started to come to meetings. Firstly, when I drink, do I have little control over the amount that I consume? And secondly, even though I want to quit entirely, do I always start drinking again? Despite the paperwork and verbal counseling that attempted to address the byproducts of my alcoholism, at some point I had to concede that I had lost the ability to control my drinking and that I needed help.

Alcoholics Anonymous provided a practical program of action that was SIMPLE. It wasn’t affiliated with the military in any way and most importantly it was discreet. So, while trying this experiment, my command wasn’t kept in the loop. I was also surprised to see support available in every country I’ve been stationed, either in person or online. Eventually, with the help of AA, I got to a place in recovery where I was able to quit drinking, stay sober, and live a happy and useful life, both while on active duty and as a civilian.

If you can answer “yes” to either of the two questions above, maybe it’s time to take a serious look at your drinking.


Merrick M.


Contact our Regional Armed Services Liaison Officer (RASLO) here


More Information:

AA Video: AA Armed Services (with subtitles)

AA Pamphlet: AA and the Armed Services

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