ADAPT: serving Airmen who serve mission

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mariette Adams
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Although alcohol awareness month has come to an end, the issue of alcohol and drugs is a topic that affects people 365 days a year. It affects families, relationships and even work environments.

In the Air Force and across the U.S. service branches, dedicated and trained service members are here to serve and help those dealing with alcohol and drug issues. 

For Capt. Tiffany Harwood, the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT) program manager with the 6th Medical Operations Squadron, the topic is one she holds close to her heart.

Since childhood, patriotism has ran through her blood. Her grandfather served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War; her father also served in the Vietnam War.

"If you would have asked which holiday we celebrated the most as a child, it would be Independence Day," explained Harwood.

So it was an easy decision when she chose to join the Air Force 27 years ago as a load master.

"The whole reason I came in to begin with was because my father was a patriot and he fought for his country," said Harwood

Harwood separated from the Air Force to start a family and be with her husband. Then in 2008, she re-enlisted into the Army for four years and later transferred into the Air Force as a licensed clinical social worker.

"For me particularly, ADAPT has been interesting because this topic has actually touched my life," said Harwood. "My father served over three years in Vietnam and he dealt with some of his issues through drinking."

During and after traumatic experiences, people sometimes turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism.

"As somebody who watched someone turn to alcohol, it made me very compassionate about trauma, how to move through trauma and how people cope through trauma, especially when it hasn't been identified, stated Harwood. "Back in that day, it really wasn't identified and that war (Vietnam) in particular wasn't embraced. So when I came back into the military and actually became a clinician, it was because of my father."

In today's military, resources like ADAPT are available for military members struggling with alcohol and drug abuse.

For those who do struggle and need the assistance of ADAPT, self-referral is an option. One's commander and first sergeant will not be notified unless there is a diagnosis.
Command-directed and medical referrals are other avenues based on if there was an alcohol or drug related incident or a medical case. For these cases one's commander and first sergeant will be notified.

"More often this program strengthens careers than it hinders careers," said Harwood. "This program enables people to foster resilience and get help in order to save their lives and careers, as well as keep skilled Airmen working to complete the mission."

Treatment can vary based on the patient's needs and their condition. Treatment can range from physio-education, where individuals are educated on alcohol, the effects it can have and finding the appropriate amount for said individual, to inpatient or outpatient care. When being treated, the patient is required not to drink.

Inpatient care is offered in severe cases where patients go through a detox. There are also partial hospitalization care programs that provide treatment three to five days a week.

Additionally, there is outpatient care that is offered in three stages. The beginning stage teaches individuals about alcohol, how it effects one's body and life, and coping strategies.

The last stage works in a process group discussion, where individuals discuss how they manage their cravings, how what they have learned works in their lives and challenges they experience.

Once treatment has been completed, the individual must attend monthly check-ins and may begin to drink responsibly.

"We are here to help them be the best Airmen they can be, to live to their fullest capacity and not to shame them," explained Harwood. "It's not about shaming someone, it's about giving them the confidence and knowledge to go through life without abusing alcohol."

Harwood goes on to say, "if you can keep the force healthy, then that's what then promotes our mission. Healthy Airmen promote a successful mission."

For information on the ADAPT program, please contact mental help at (813) 827-9170.