Health Team

Study: Soldiers returning from combat suffer alcohol problems

Posted August 12, 2008

Troops returning from war often have to deal with a number of serious health problems. A new study found heavy drinking is a problem, especially among soldiers returning from combat.

“We saw an increased risk in newly reported, heavy, weekly drinking, newly reported binge drinking and newly reported alcohol-related problems,” said Isabel Jacobsen, a Department of Defense researcher.

Researchers analyzed data from questionnaires completed by more than 48,000 servicemen and servicewomen before and after deployment from 2001 to 2006.

“Our findings showed that the individuals who deployed and reported combat exposures were at increased risk for newly reported alcohol behaviors,” Jacobsen said.

Reserve and National Guard personnel who are sent to combat showed the most increased risk, compared with non-deployed personnel.

The study found that they are about 50 percent more likely to experience recent, heavy, weekly drinking. That's more than 14 drinks per week for men and seven drinks for women.

Just as many report recent binge drinking – having five or more drinks per day on occasion.

“Our goal was to give answers to the leadership and let them take these answers and refine our policy and prevention strategies,” said researcher Tyler Smith.

The study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers did not find the same drinking patterns among deployed service members who were not in combat.

Women service members were more likely to experience new, heavy, weekly drinking than men. Younger service members, born after 1980, were at higher risk for newly reported binge drinking.

Researchers said their findings indicate that Marines experienced the highest prevalence for all alcohol problems looked at in the study.

Active duty personnel did not appear to be at an increased risk for alcohol-related problems, even when exposed to combat.


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  • TMizzy Aug 15, 2008

    You would come home and want to drink every night after seeing the horroer those guys saw too. I mean I would live every day to the fullest, slamming beers knowing I could have been slaughtered by a roadside bomb! So yeah.....thats not shocking!

  • buco Aug 15, 2008

    i through bringe drinking was the only way to drive

  • Viewer Aug 14, 2008

    This is not an earthshaking new discovery. The USA has had other wars in the past with the same result. I have not forgotten my Dad's drinking in 1945 and afterwards.

  • NCPictures Aug 13, 2008

    In other news..... College campuses still remain the area of the highest level of drinking......