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National guardsmen face a high risk of developing alcohol abuse problems following deployment
Date:2/16/2012

February 16, 2012 -- Soldiers in the National Guard with no history of alcohol abuse are at significant risk of developing alcohol-related problems during and after deployment, according to a new study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal. Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and colleagues at three other institutions found that the soldiers at greatest risk of developing alcohol-related problems also experienced depression and/or PTSD during or after deployment.

Alcohol-related behaviors are common among the military, yet few studies have looked at how issues like PTSD and depression contribute to the risk for abuse during or following their service. The knowledge gap is even greater for army guard soldiers.

The researchers based their findings on data collected between June 2008 and February 2009 from 963 soldiers of the Ohio Army National Guard and who said they had never abused alcohol prior to active duty. The investigators found that 113 (11.7%) of the soldiers reported alcohol abuse disorder that first occurred during or post deployment.

The 113 respondents were also screened for depression and PTSD based on standard criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Among this group, 35 (31%) also reported depression, 23 (20.4%) reported PTSD, and 15 (13.3%) reported both psychiatric conditions. Interestingly, the study shows that alcohol abuse was uncommon among the small number of participants who had a history of depression or PTSD prior to their deployment.

The soldiers at risk for new onset alcohol abuse were mostly male (97%), less than 35 years of age (74%), and single (45%). The majority had been deployed only once and most recently to a conflict setting.

"A novel finding of our study is that developing depression or PTSD during or after deployment were strong risk factors for having alcohol problems during the same tim
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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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