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The Mountaineer Online

0-1-2-3 program offers different approach to responsible drinking

BethAnn Cameron

U.S. Army Public Health Command

In the past, a program called "0-0-1-3" was used as an alcohol abuse prevention program that promoted making responsible choices with regard to alcohol use.

In 2004, Warren Air Force Base developed the 0-0-1-3 program to address alcohol misuse as a result of a survey that found that the average airman thought “unsafe" drinking began with eight drinks or more.

The 0-0-1-3 program emphasizes personal responsibility as a help to change the drinking culture in the military.


What did 0-0-1-3 mean?

* 0 – Zero drinks if you are younger than 21.

* 0 – Zero drinks if you are driving.

* 1 – One drink per hour (amount of alcohol that the liver can process in one hour)

* 3 – No more than three drinks of alcohol per outing


The Army at Fort Drum has taken the “0-0-1-3” and exchanged it for the new “0-0-1-2-3” described in the Prime-For-Life Program, which highlights the ill effects of alcohol abuse as more than just an individual’s “driving while intoxicated.” The Prime-For-Life program identifies alcohol abuse to be a health and impairment problem, leading to adverse legal as well as health outcomes associated with misuse.


The 0-1-2-3 now represents low-risk guidelines:

* 0 – Zero drinks for those driving a vehicle.

* 1 – One drink per hour

* 2 – No more than two drinks per day

* 3 – Not to exceed three drinks on any one day


The Prime-For-Life Program also identifies zero drinks for women who are pregnant, wanting to become pregnant, or breast feeding and individuals who are taking certain medications (i.e. antidepressants, sedatives, and over-the-counter antihistamines). A person also might want to consider not drinking if he or she has neurological problems, other medical conditions or an increased risk for breast cancer.

In addition, 0 applies to those who have already crossed over into addiction and those in the United States who are younger than 21.

In order to follow 0-1-2-3 and be able to compare one's drinking habits to the standard, we need to know the size of a drink based on alcohol content.

What defines a drink?

A standard drink is equal to 13.7 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol or:

* 12 ounces of beer

* Four ounces of wine

* 1.5-ounces or a "shot" of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka or whiskey).


A person following the low-risk guidelines would consume no more than 14 drinks a week. The program describes that an individual consuming more than 14 drinks a week will greatly increase his or her chances of legal and health problems.

It is also explains that an individual cannot “save up” the drinks for a party he or she wants to attend on the weekend. For the benefit of one’s health and well-being, an individual following the low-risk guidelines described in Prime-For-Life should consume no more than two drinks on any day. This is supported by more than 200 research studies.

Prime-for-Life Program describes these as low-risk guidelines for those who have a standard level of risk. Those who have an increased level of risk will need to make adjustments. If a person has a family history of alcoholism or has high tolerance, he or she will need to reduce drinking even further. Those who are lacking sufficient sleep or traveling at high altitude will need to make adjustments to these drinking guidelines as well. Age, gender and body size also need to be considered.

The program describes how individuals become mentally impaired before they become physically impaired. So, even if a person feels fine physically, he or she may be mentally impaired, which affects reaction time, muscle control and visual understanding.

Most people know that drinking alcohol can be harmful. It can affect a person's health and well-being by causing illness and injury. It also can affect a military person's career by causing him or her to be passed over for promotion or cause loss of time from duty.

The Prime-For-Life Program is about making responsible choices about alcohol and drug use. If you're underage or driving, don't drink; if you are of legal age to consume alcohol, “Think Before You Drink.”

For more assistance, call the Fort Drum Army Substance Abuse Program office at 772-6701.


(Fort Drum Army Substance Abuse Program contributed to this article.)

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