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Marine Corps Base Hawaii

"Supporting Readiness and Global Projection"

Prime For Life still going strong

By Lance Cpl. Janelle Y. Villa | Marine Corps Base Hawaii | October 18, 2013

Marine Corps Base Hawaii --

Prime for Life was launched on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, over a year ago, to help service members and their families who are dealing with substance abuse.

“Prime for Life is an evidence-based alcohol and drug program designed to challenge common beliefs and attitudes that directly contribute to high-risk alcohol and drug use,” said Jonathan Barkley, a retired Marine, Certified Prevention Specialist, and facilitator for the MCBH Prime for Life courses.

The course has been used in the civilian sector for 30 years and has replaced the Alcohol Impact Course previously used by the Marine Corps.

“I believe in the course’s content because it’s hard to dispute the science involved,” Barkley said. “It brings individuals a greater awareness level when faced with low risk versus high risk alcohol and drug choices.”

The curriculum is taught through a Prime for Life workbook, slide presentations, group activities and videos. The facilitators have a binder and syllabus to assist them.

Participants attend either a one-day course that is six hours long and a two-day course that is 16 hours long. Clients receive periodic breaks and a break for lunch.

“The six hour class works well,” Barkley said. “It works at a good pace to get all the information out there.”

All active duty service members and qualified family members who are struggling with alcohol and drug issues are welcome to attend the free course. Prime for Life is not a treatment program; it is an education level class, not just a counseling and treatment class according to Barkley.

The two-day course is held once a month for command and self-referrals. Units interested in further educating their personnel can also request a facilitator to teach the Prime for Life course to their Marines or sailors. The prevention specialist can teach the daylong class to a maximum of 30 individuals. 

“So far Prime for Life has only been open to command and self referrals,” Barkley said. “But now we are introducing condensed professional military education versions that are 4 ½ to 6 ½ hours long to commands that request additional prevention education.”

Personnel receive mandatory substance abuse training annually, for preventative measures.

“Most Marines are on a good foot,” Barkley said. “They do what they are supposed to. They live a good life and don’t binge drink or over drink. Because of this they don’t think they need more education besides the 30 minute PMEs they already get.”

Sometimes they may not realize they have an issue and more education can help prevent future incidents.

The Prime for Life course was designed to educate individuals whom have existing issues relating to drug and alcohol abuse, but can also be used to teach the greater majority of the dangers of over drinking.

“Word’s getting out (about the course),” Barkley said. “We require each client to fill out a survey after the course and the individuals who have taken it were appreciative and happy. If the Marine Corps continues to support change in the cultural environment in regards to providing better substance abuse prevention education, we should see a wiser, more informed and educated Marine.”

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