Commentary | April 2, 2021

“Stay Safe” using the Coast Guard’s low-risk drinking guidelines

By Keisha Reynolds, MyCG Writer

Alcohol Awareness Month is an opportunity to remind and educate the Coast Guard workforce about responsible consumption of alcohol. The Coast Guard adopted standards from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Low Risk Drinking Guidelines.

“In recent a Health Related Behavior Survey, one third of Coast Guardsmen and Coast Guardswomen reported binge drinking or heavy drinking,” said the Coast Guard’s Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment program manager, Mark Mattiko. “We all know that alcohol is involved in many negative consequences, such as civil arrest, sexual assault, domestic violence, and DUIs,—so we need to reduce its negative consequences on the fleet,” he said.

Mattiko continued, “Ads on television remind you to drink responsibly without defining what that looks like. This is the reason that the Coast Guard adopted guidelines from the NIAAA nearly a decade ago.”

The NIAAA Low Risk Drinking Guidelines (Zero, One, Two, and Three) will aid you in staying safe and making better alcohol consumption-related decisions. Also review Alcohol Awareness Month: “Staying Safe” ALCOAST 130/21 for additional information. 

The guidelines are:

  • ZERO - there are occasions where zero drinks is the only low-risk option; such as, when driving, using machinery, cleaning a weapon, pregnant, on duty, or on certain medications;
  • ONE - consume no more than one *standard alcoholic beverage per hour;
  • TWO - consume no more than two *standard drinks per occasion and;
  • THREE - never exceed three drinks per occasion.

(*Please note: a standard drink is typically 14 grams of pure alcohol; 12 ounces of regular beer, and about 5 ounces of wine.)

If you or a loved one are struggling with the effects of isolation and/ or alcohol use, there are programs and resources immediately available to you:

  • Visit the Department of Defense’s ownyourownlimits.org website to explore educational materials, self-assessments, risk calculators, and responsible drinking tools designed to help you maintain control and stay safe. 
  • Visit the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s website for resources.
  • Reach out to your local Command Drug and Alcohol Representative 

(CDAR) within your district to discuss responsible drinking, the benefits of screening, and referral options. 
Prevention Works, Treatment is Effective, and Recovery is not only possible, it is probable. Help is always available.

For more information, email Mark Mattiko or call (202) 247-6824. You may also email Chief Warrant Officer Mary Davenport or call (757) 628-4369.