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

e period," said Brandon Marshall, PhD, of the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia's Mailman School and lead author of the study. Because new onset alcohol abuse was most common among service members experiencing depression and PTSD, one possible explanation is that soldiers who experienced depression or PTSD self-medicate with alcohol to cope with negative feelings and the stress of deployment.

These findings have important implications for intervention and policy, according to Dr. Marshall and colleagues. Historically, few active soldiers seek treatment services for alcohol abuse, mainly because information is non-confidential and may be perceived as having negative career consequences. "The high prevalence of alcohol abuse during and after deployment observed here suggests that policies that promote improved access to care and confidentiality merit strong consideration," noted Dr. Marshall.

Previous studies have found that National Guard soldiers are more likely to engage in alcohol-related behavior compared to active army personnel. They are also less likely to enter substance abuse treatment after they return from active duty. "These findings indicate the urgent need to evaluate the availability and uptake of alcohol treatment interventions for this population," noted Sandro Galea, MD, DrPH, chair of the Mailman School Department of Epidemiology and senior author.

The investigators caution that the timing of new onset alcohol abuse in relation to a psychiatric disorder was self-reported. They also note that there were few women included in the study.


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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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