Everyday stressors can lead to bad habits and bad habits can lead to major mistakes. In an environment where watching one another’s backs and maintaining readiness is key, those mistakes can be career ending or worse. That’s why Marine Corps Community Services’ Marine and Family program is trying to give Marines and Sailors a means to cope with their emotions in a positive way – through music.

MCCS Lejeune – New River’s “Pickin’ and Prevention” is a new monthly program that will take place every third Thursday. Aimed at replacing alcohol with creative means of expression, the event is led by Sam Lewis, a musician and prevention specialist, and coordinated by Eric Coffman, a clinical and prevention supervisor with MCB Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River’s substance abuse program. Coffman saw the program as a way to keep Marines out of trouble and away from developing bad habits.

“We wanted to open up the conversation about low risk substance abuse,” said Coffman. “There are a lot of guys who say there’s not a lot to do in the community so we wanted to give them some positive coping methods.”

The program’s institution came about as a byproduct of similar programs to help with Wounded Warrior Battalion East.

“We’ve partnered alongside the wounded warriors in the past with music (based methods),” Coffman said. “We’d ask them to come up with a song about how they were doing or their experiences… It was successful and we thought it applied to the (substance abuse prevention) program.”

Coffman credits Lewis with playing a major role in making the program a possibility. Lewis has used his musical intervention strategies during other successful programs such as the Rethink That Drink program.

The first meeting on Sept. 19 plans to advocate responsible, low-risk drinking. The Single Marine Program has guitars that service members can use or attendees are welcome to bring their own. Skill level plays no role in attending the event.

“Music is something that resonates with people,” Coffman said.

For Marines and Sailors at risk, that music could be what stands between them and the bottle.

For more information on substance abuse programs or the Pickin’ and Prevention program visit http://www.mccslejeune-newriver.com/substanceabuse/.