Alcohol Abuse Among Veterans: What Are the Facts and Risk Factors?

Veterans misuse alcohol regularly. Mental illness may play a role in this, or the veteran may be struggling to readjust to civilian life after a tour of duty. Help is available for these men and women if they know where to look.

Why is Alcohol Misuse Common Among Military Members?

Drinking has long been a part of the military culture. Service members use it to connect with one another, and many eating establishments offer discounts to those who serve in this role. Sadly, alcohol use disorders remain the most common substance abuse problem in the military today.

Military members are often exposed to traumatic events. They may cope by turning to alcohol. Heavy and binge drinking is common among these men and women. Research shows over 33 percent of active-duty service members today binge drink.

Approximately 25 percent of service members who were deployed to a combat zone misused alcohol in the months following their return home, and over 10 percent had behavioral issues resulting from alcohol use. This misuse may continue long into the future. Service members who misuse alcohol need to look into tricare approved rehab near you for help in overcoming their addiction.

Alcohol Use Statistics

As previously mentioned, alcohol use disorders remain the biggest substance abuse problem for men and women who have served or are currently serving in the military. Those with combat experience are more likely to suffer from this problem. One in five service members drinks heavily today, consuming 15 or more drinks per week for males or eight or more drinks for females.

Men who serve are more likely to misuse alcohol. Homeless veterans turn to alcohol more than other substances today, which has led to it being named the leading substance contributing to nonfatal overdoses in this population. Military members who misuse alcohol are also at a higher risk of suicide. The suicide rate is significantly higher among veterans than the general population.

Risk Factors

Alcohol may be used to avoid unpleasant experiences, and many veterans turn to alcohol when they are stressed or depressed. PTSD can often bring about an alcohol use disorder, and veterans are at high risk of depression, which may lead to them abusing alcohol. Military sexual trauma is another common problem that may lead to alcohol misuse.

PTSD remains very common in men and women who have an alcohol use disorder. Experts estimate seven percent of military members will have PTSD at some point. These men and women tend to binge drink.

Countless veterans struggle with depression. They may use alcohol to self-medicate rather than seek treatment. The psychological distress they experience leads to cravings for alcohol that they struggle to control.

Sexual trauma, battery, and harassment remain problems in the military today. This may lead to PTSD and depression among victims of this trauma and accompanying alcohol abuse. Women reservists remain at the most risk of depression resulting from sexual harassment, although nobody is immune.

Those who have a history of abuse in their past and now serve in the military have a higher risk of developing a disorder related to alcohol use. Sadly, many of these men and women turn to the military as a way to escape an abusive home environment. They then find themselves in an environment that is conducive to developing an alcohol use disorder.

Every person should be aware of alcohol use disorders among service members. These men and women put their lives on the line to protect all Americans and need to be cared for. With help, they can take control of their lives once again.

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