A free smartphone app designed to help current and ex-Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and veterans manage their drinking has been updated with new features, including being able to email an individual’s drinking history to a doctor or to themselves.
ON TRACK with The Right Mix, (iTunes download ; Android download) which was originally launched in March 2013 and can also be used by civilians, allows people to chart their drinking history and spending over the bar across time to reveal the short and long-term impact that a few too many can have on your life and fitness.
The update comes as thousands of battle-hardened Australian troops previously on deployment in Afghanistan return home following the wind-down of operations and re-enter civilian life.
A real concern for both the military and health practitioners is effectively managing the effects of post-traumatic-stress-disorder that has previously been linked to harmful self-medication using substances lime alcohol.
A key feature of the alcohol app is its ability to create highly personalised well-being scores that takes into account crucial factors like gender, age, height and weight.
For present and retired personnel, that means a private and discrete heads-up about how drinking behaviour, moderate or otherwise, translates to health and financial outcomes before the consequences become more difficult to manage.
For those prepared to sweat-out the liquid calories the next day, the app shows how much exercise you need to do to burn-off the booze. It can also alert you when you’ve reached your budget when sinking a few off-base.
Among the new the new exercise options integrated into the phone app are golf, chin-ups, sit-ups, push-ups, running and swimming.
There’s also a graph that tracks your drinking, spending and wellbeing to help individuals better understand their drinking patterns, while a ‘recent drinks’ option on the tracking screen lets those imbibing quickly choose from their last five drinks.
In the event you let things slide and forget to add drinks to your phone on-the-go, it’s is now possible to retrospectively add drinks to past sessions or even add a new session to your drinking history.
The issue of managing a culture of recreational drinking has long been a challenge for the ADF and has, over the last few years been brought into sharper focus by top brass because of its unwanted contribution to a string of serious incidents that have landed personnel in court or on disciplinary charges.
Two of the most serious scandals have been the 2011 ‘Skype’ sex incident at the elite Australian Defence Force Academy and multiple reports of drunkenness, nudity and sexual harassment on board the HMAS Success’ tour through Asia in 2009.
The ON TRACK with The Right Mix was developed in the wake of the 2011 independent report The Use of Alcohol in the Australian Defence Force which found that 26.4 per cent of ADF members reported drinking alcohol at hazardous or harmful levels, and particularly lower-ranked men under 25.
The same report also found that Navy personnel were more than three times more likely to have an alcohol disorder than Air Force personnel, while Army personnel were had double the chance of Air Force personnel of developing an alcohol disorder.
The report said: “Alcohol use is common among ADF personnel and while many drink in moderation, there is also a high prevalence of drinking at hazardous levels, at least on some occasions.”
It also noted that this situation had existed for “a considerable time” and documented the ramifications of binge drinking, including reduced unit and service performance and, “collateral damage to the public image and reputation of the services, both within Australia and internationally.”
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