Researchers find startling numbers of active-military personnel engaging in frequent binge drinking

Feb 12, 2009

Binge drinking is common among active-duty military personnel and is strongly associated with many health and social problems, including problems with job performance and alcohol-impaired driving, according to a new study released by the University of Minnesota and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The study analyzed data from 16,037 active-duty military personnel who participated in a 2005 Department of Defense Survey of Health-Related Behaviors among Military Personnel. Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks on one occasion for a woman or five or more drinks on one occasion for a man. It was reported by 43 percent of active-duty personnel during the past-month, resulting in a total of approximately 30 million episodes of binge drinking or roughly 30 episodes per person per year. About two-thirds of these episodes were reported by active-duty personnel who were 17 to 25 years of age at the time of the survey, including 5 million episodes that were reported by active-duty personnel who were under 21 years of age.

The researchers also found that alcohol-related problems were reported by more than half of all active-duty personnel who reported binge drinking, and that compared to non-binge drinkers, binge drinkers were more than six times more likely to report job performance problems and about five times more likely to report driving after having too much to drink.

"Our study clearly shows that binge drinking is a significant public health problem in the military, which is dangerous to both the drinkers and to those around them," said Mandy Stahre, M.P.H., a doctoral candidate in alcohol epidemiology and first author of the study. "It also underscores the importance of implementing effective strategies to prevent underage and binge drinking, such as maintaining and enforcing the age 21 minimum legal drinking age and increasing alcohol excise taxes."

Although the data was collected in 2005, researchers note that the problem of binge drinking among active-duty personnel has been documented over the past 20 years. As with all self-reported surveys, binge drinking and related consequences are generally underreported, thus the estimates of the prevalence and frequency of binge drinking among active-duty personnel may be conservative.

"This study provides further evidence that binge drinking is a major public health problem in the U.S.," noted Robert Brewer, M.D., the leader of the CDC's Alcohol Program and co-author. "However, the military may be in a unique position to help reduce this problem in the general population, particularly given that nearly 13 percent of U.S. adults report current or past military service."

Source: University of Minnesota

Explore further: AMA: Physicians driving the slowing of health care costs

Related Stories

EPA says first day of oil spill spent 'planning'

9 hours ago

On the afternoon of the largest coastal oil spill in California in 25 years, graduate student Natalie Phares quickly organized a volunteer bucket brigade to clean a beach north of Santa Barbara.

Insect mating behavior has lessons for drones

9 hours ago

Male moths locate females by navigating along the latter's pheromone (odor) plume, often flying hundreds of meters to do so. Two strategies are involved to accomplish this: males must find the outer envelope ...

Recommended for you

Footpaths and parks support active school commute

20 hours ago

While it probably won't make the idea of attending school more appealing social scientists say different infrastructure and behaviour change programs are key to encouraging young people to take a more active ...

Food barometer measures a population’'s eating habits

21 hours ago

A survey by Taylor's-Toulouse University Centre (TTUC) is collecting data on the food habits of individuals and how their choices are related to modernisation and other social factors. Results show that almost ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

xsparc
not rated yet Feb 12, 2009
OMG!!!! People in the military drink alot?!?!?!?

Really??? Someone spent money to research this?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.