By Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith
/ Published October 20, 2019
Staff Sgt. Bryan Hersey, 100th Comptroller Squadron budget analysis personnel assigned to RAF Mildenhall, poses for a photo at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, United Kingdom, Oct. 3, 2019. Hersey, a recovering alcoholic, went through the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Treatment program this past year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith)
“Laying in a hospital suffering from alcohol poisoning, I started to realize how bad of a situation, I put myself in,” said Staff Sgt. Bryan Hersey, 100th Comptroller Squadron budget analysis personnel assigned to RAF Mildenhall.
Hersey had been an alcoholic for years. Drinking became as common as brushing his teeth. It wasn’t about the taste for him, rather, the challenge of whether or not he could handle his next drink.
“Any reason I had ... I would drink,” Hersey said. “Whenever I became stressed I would drink, and whenever something good happened, I would drink more.”
Last year he went from drinking recreationally to drinking dangerously.
His reckless drinking began after experiencing the loss of a friend and mentor.
“I didn’t want to think Chris had passed away and how unready I was to face the world without him,” Hersey said. “I just felt like the world was closing in on me, and I went over the edge. I never had a good father figure, and this guy was like my father figure in the workplace. I felt like life had cheated me.”
Feeling lost, hopeless and alone, Hersey turned to alcohol.
“That weekend, I had drank seven bottles of whiskey,” said Hersey. “I went to the hospital for seven hours, I had to be on anti-seizure medication and an IV Gatorade banana bag that had so many nutrients because I was so sick from withdrawal.”
A representative from the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Treatment program visited him in the hospital which helped him begin his journey down the road to recovery.
“I was in a rehab for a month with a therapist who helped me work through the cause, it was like a safe place,” Hersey said. “Ultimately they helped me realize I was grieving, that this moment isn’t forever, and he wouldn’t want me to live like this.”
ADAPT not only helps individuals who are suffering from alcoholism and drug abuse, but their mission is also to promote responsible drinking, prevent alcohol and drug related incidents and educate individuals about the effects of misusing alcohol and drugs.
“We offer individual and group therapy here, on site, and for higher or more intensive care, we refer participants to off base facilities capable of providing the support they need,” said Tech. Sgt. Vaiolo Swanagan, 48th Medical Group ADAPT specialist.
Hersey was considered self-referred because he admitted himself into the hospital. Even though he was self-referred, he was hesitant due to fear of repercussion.
“When I walked in, I immediately thought, ‘this is it, I’m going to get some kind of paperwork,’” Hersey said.
Although the ADAPT program at the Liberty Wing has helped over 200 people this year, many individuals fear or hesitate to go to ADAPT, but Hersey would advise differently.
“They changed my life for the better, and I would advise anyone who thinks ADAPT can help them in any way to just go because it will make every aspect of your life so much better,” Hersey said. “If you don’t put yourself first, your career and everything around you will suffer. Finding yourself will make you an overall better person.”