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Living with unknown consequences of DUI charges

Ensuring a military member’s awareness of the limitations and consequences of alcohol abuse and driving under the influence can have on a career could prevent them from crossing the line of another drink or the decision to get behind the wheel. To learn more about the consequences of and alcohol abuse, call Alcohol, Drug Abuse Program and Treatment at 883-8373. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Samuel King Jr.)

Ensuring a military member’s awareness of the limitations and consequences of alcohol abuse and driving under the influence can have on a career could prevent them from crossing the line of another drink or the decision to get behind the wheel. To learn more about the consequences of and alcohol abuse, call Alcohol, Drug Abuse Program and Treatment at 883-8373. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Samuel King Jr.)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Imagine waking up daily, ready to run without knowing if you are the lion pursuing a fresh meal or a deer trying to escape from being devoured. Either you are going to make the conscious effort to aggressively face the uncertainties of life or passively allow them to generate fear or doubt in your ability to handle the day.

Because my Air Force future has been placed in "unknown" status since I was charged with DUI, I have to actively take hold of my day the moment my eyes open. I will allow alcohol to destroy my life or will I conquer it.

Through my experience, I learned to be cautious of how I invite alcohol in to all aspects of my life. I have given a lot of privileges away because of my choice to abuse alcohol.
Money, time and rank were all secure before having a DUI on my record, but now I wake up with uncertainty on all of the above. However, there is a chance for recovery as long as I have breath in my body. Quitting the race, suicide or binge drinking are not options.

No one ever gave up on me so I refuse to give up on myself. Through this process I've gained strength and trust in my support system. Also, the support of base agencies and the bonding friendships at Airman Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention and Treatment fuel my desire to persevere and bounce back.

Recovery is not something that happens overnight. Being victorious one day does not mean I won the war. It's a continuous walk to recovery.

For me, this daily process starts in the mind. Spiritual wellness is the core of my mental regime, holding firm to a faith that there is a God who never gives up on us.

During a recent Wingman Day, Team Eglin members were taught resilience can be improved by building and reinforcing skills in the four domains: mental, physical, social, and spiritual. Abusing alcohol has a way of overshadowing all four.

For example, when people are faced with an upcoming challenge or a need to unwind, drinking tends to be an accepted behavior to bring a sense of clarity or peace. This is not the answer if you don't have the ability to moderate that intake. A way to think of it is: if you are lazy with pets, you would not keep a poisonous snake for a pet.

During such an occasion, on the night cops handed me that ticket, alcohol was my way to cope with something I was facing in my personal life. It turned out not to be the right answer to my situation at the time. I was putting myself at risk and faced greater consequences by drinking than what I would have faced resolving my personal issues in healthier ways.

To know others went through similar situations as I had and to hear the struggles they faced created a bond among my classmates at ADAPT. However, even after all the advice and support, the decision is ultimately mine. My mind has to be in check for the next time I face an issue that could lead me back to alcohol abuse.

For this reason "war" is the word for the daily routine. It will be frustrating, but you have to keep fighting. The biggest struggle, however, is finding peace of mind. From our thoughts, emotions are developed that can lead to behaving negatively on those ideas. If we have the right mental weapons in the arsenal, victory can be won.

I used to allow my emotions to govern me but now I follow my faith, which teaches me to guard my heart with all diligence. Out of that diligence are the well springs of life. My thoughts guard what comes in and goes out. Abuse of alcohol took away from that ability to think clearly.

If I could pass along some guidance, it would be don't wait to get help. There are so many resources on base that are free. Don't wait until you break the law or find yourself in a bad situation and are forced to pay for the same resources off base. Take advantage of the programs the Air Forces has or you will remain in a spiral. It's better to get help before you see those flashing lights or an argument in relationship gets out of hand.

Although my Air Force career is full of unknowns as a result of my actions, I have gained strength and a new perspective as a result. Now, I write down everything I'm thankful for to keep my mind at ease.

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