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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 110506
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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I am currently 2 1/2 years from retirement (20 years). I self

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I am currently 2 1/2 years from retirement (20 years). I self referred myself to behavioral health to discuss some things I had been wondering about in regards ***** ***** I had PTSD and was in denial because of a couple events that occurred during deployment. I went ahead and answered all questions honestly against my better judgement. Long story short, the psychologist determined that I did not have PTSD, and while I had intrusive thoughts when both sober or inebriated over the events, determined that I had an alcoholic problem that may potentially lead to a worse situation due to these intrusive thoughts (despite this happening for 5 years now with no incident). Now they want to send me to ASAP for an assessment. Believe me, its very hard to offend me, but this guy just pushed that right button. I was amazed that the stories about drinking more than 1 drink and you are considered an alcoholic were true. I denied self referral during the intake but the psychologist is referring me anyways.
My situation is - Never been in trouble for an alcohol related incident, always perform at work with no problem, I haven't even had an article 15, no bad NCOER's ever.
(Not that the stellar performace record and good character witness thing plays out in court anymore)
My questions are -
How many drinks and/or frequency is really determined enough to refer to ASAP?
(I.E. is someone who drinks 10 beers on a Friday night and gets drunk and someone who drinks 1 beer a night and gets drunk both alcoholics?)
What is the regulation & paragraph that gives behavioral health the authority for it? (Though I'm sure they will call the command and tell them to refer me (or will that violate HIPPA? (since it doesn't refer to harming myself, others, or a premeditated or committed crime)))
Does someone need a paper trail - Counselings indicating that I have a problem and incidents of alcohol related incidents to back that up - to justify referring me?
Can I sue a DOD Civilian if this referral or results has a negative impact on my career or current position?
Please include any other follow up information for questions I hadn't thought of that would be of use as well. Thank you : )
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Military Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only. This is a problem with society in general today. These psychologists or social worker therapists all project their personal bias into their work and it impacts the lives of other people. There is no rule or law about how many drinks make someone an alcoholic or someone with an alcohol abuse problem. The major studies suggest that men should not have more than 4 drinks a day of alcohol, but again there is no rule or law stating that only medical studies. There is no rule or regulation that specifically gives Behavioral Health the authority, it is part of their treatment duties when evaluating patients that if they believe there is a substance abuse problem to make appropriate referrals. They cannot tell your command, since you are still protected under HIPAA and if they disclose the information you would have grounds to pursue a HIPAA claim through the US Department of Health and Human Services against the individual and could actually sue the individual for breach of their duty of confidentiality. Unfortunately, no they do not need a paper trail to justify referring you. Some of these wacky social workers or psychologists think that a person who has one drink a week on a Friday at the end of the week is an alcoholic because "they are drinking to unwind at the end of the week and are thus relying on alcohol," which is complete nonsense. I am afraid though that even if the ASAP evaluation comes back you are not in need of treatment, the civilian is protected, since they have a duty to send anyone they possibly (POSSIBLY) suspect to have a substance abuse issue for further investigation to ASAP. So they would be protected. Also, participation in ASAP is supposed to be protected and not have any impact on your career according to the ASAP guidelines.

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