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

February 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: Simple blood test identifies critically ill patients who misuse alcohol, study finds

Related Stories

Simple blood test identifies critically ill patients who misuse alcohol, study finds

November 9, 2017
A simple blood test for a compound called PEth can accurately identify critically ill hospital patients who misuse alcohol, a study has found.

Drug could block harmful impact of teen binge drinking, researchers report

November 2, 2017
Alcohol-fueled "schoolies" celebrations marking the end of high school for many Australian students have an unexpected impact: their binge-drinking behaviour as teenagers can lead to problems with alcohol and other drug dependence ...

It's not just mums who need to avoid alcohol when trying for a baby

November 7, 2017
Abstaining from alcohol during preconception and pregnancy is usually considered to be the woman's responsibility. The main concern surrounding alcohol exposure during pregnancy often relates to well-established evidence ...

Higher estrogen levels linked to increased alcohol sensitivity in brain's 'reward center'

November 6, 2017
The reward center of the brain is much more attuned to the pleasurable effects of alcohol when estrogen levels are elevated, an effect that may underlie the development of addiction in women, according to a study on mice ...

Is drinking wine really good for your heart?

October 27, 2017
As the weekend approaches, people are opening wine bottles in bars and restaurants and homes around the world, ready to kick back and relax.

Tanning beds and risky behavior linked—in men

November 2, 2017
Even though men use tanning beds at lower rates than women, men who tan tend to do it in riskier ways, according to a study by researchers at the University of Connecticut. The findings should help public health officials ...

Recommended for you

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

When vegetables are closer in price to chips, people eat healthier, study finds

November 16, 2017
When healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet, a new Drexel University ...

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke may be vastly underestimated by parents

November 15, 2017
Four out of 10 children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that parents who smoke mistakenly rely on their own physical senses ...

How pomegranate extract alters breast cancer stem cell properties

November 15, 2017
A University at Albany research team has found evidence suggesting that the same antioxidant that gives pomegranate fruit their vibrant red color can alter the characteristics of breast cancer stem cells, showing the superfood's ...

1 comment

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.