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Children of deployed parents at higher risk for alcohol, drug use
Date:3/28/2013

In 2010, almost 2 million American children had at least one parent in active military duty. A new University of Iowa study suggests that deployment of a parent puts these children at an increased risk for drinking alcohol and using drugs.

Using data from a statewide survey of sixth-, eighth-, and 11th-grade students in Iowa, the researchers found an increase in 30-day alcohol use, binge drinking, using marijuana and other illegal drugs, and misusing prescription drugs among children of deployed or recently returned military parents compared to children in non-military families. The increased risk was consistent across all age groups. The findings are published online in the journal Addiction.

"We worry a lot about the service men and women and we sometimes forget that they are not the only ones put into harm's way by deployment -- their families are affected, too," says Stephan Arndt, Ph.D., UI professor of psychiatry and biostatistics and senior study author. "Our findings suggest we need to provide these families with more community support."

Arndt and colleagues at the Iowa Consortium for Substance Abuse Research and Evaluation and the UI Injury Prevention Research Center, examined data from the 2010 Iowa Youth Survey (IYS) to investigate whether military deployment of a parent was associated with children's substance use.

The survey, developed by the consortium in 1999, is administered by the state and conducted every two years. Participating students answer questions online about attitudes and experiences with alcohol, drugs, and violence, as well as students' perceptions of their peers, family, school and community. Of all sixth-, eighth-, and 11th-grade students enrolled in Iowa schools in 2010, 69 percent (78,240 students) completed the IYS.

Students were also asked if they had a parent in the military and about the parent's deployment status. The researchers focused their analysis on the 59,395 respo
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Contact: Jennifer Brown
jennifer-l-brown@uiowa.edu
319-356-7124
University of Iowa Health Care
Source:Eurekalert

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