Female Military Personnel and Binge Drinking

Female Military Personnel and Binge DrinkingThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sponsored a study entitled Binge Drinking Among U.S. Active-Duty Military Personnel that was conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota. The participants were over 16,000 active-duty military personnel who took an anonymous and self-administered survey. The study presented the following results:

  • A total of 43.2% of those surveyed reported binge drinking in the past month, resulting in 29.7 episodes per person per year
  • Personnel aged 17–25 years comprised 67.1% of binge episodes
  • Of these episodes, 25.1% were reported by underage youths (aged 17–20 years)
  • Binge drinkers were more likely to report alcohol related problems including job performance problems, alcohol impaired driving and criminal justice problems

According to reports from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) approximately one third of alcohol abusers are women.

Military Response to Binge Drinking

The NIAAA also sponsors research projects to look at not only the scope of the problem of binge drinking, but also strategies to prevent binge drinking. The NIAAA offers suggestions to every branch of the military describing initiatives and programs that can be implemented to increase awareness of the problem, educate military personnel and establish policies to reduce the number of incidences of binge drinking. Some of these suggestions have been acted upon by the military and include the following:

  • Strict policies to reduce the use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs – These policies include detection, treatment, rehabilitation and prevention. The Department of Defense (DOD) has implemented such policies.
  • Restricted or limited availability – The DOD created an “Alcohol Abuse Prevention Strategic Plan” that sets pricing controls on alcoholic beverages in military stores.
  • Policies to deglamorize the use of alcohol – The Navy’s “Right Spirit” campaign removes alcohol from traditional ceremonies and provides alternatives to drinking. The campaign also focuses on recognizing the effects of alcohol use and promoting personal responsibility concerning alcohol use.
  • Increased personal responsibility – The Navy’s “Best Practices” program aims to reduce alcohol and other drug problems among young, at-risk personnel by stressing relationships, relevance and responsibility. Another Navy program, PREVENT (Personal Responsibility: Values and Education Training), aims to provide 18 to 26-year-old sailors with the education and skills necessary to encourage them to act as personally responsible, contributing members of the Navy.
  • Health promotion – In 1986, the U.S. military adopted a comprehensive policy to foster general health promotion among military personnel, including strategies to reduce substance abuse. In addition to alcohol and other drug abuse prevention, the policy included measures for smoking prevention and cessation, physical fitness, nutrition, stress management and the prevention of hypertension.

A variety of analyses done on the various military initiatives suggest that military personnel receive some benefit from these programs.

Get Help Finding Resources for Binge Drinking

If you fear that you may be a binge drinker, you may want to learn more about this condition and how you can manage your alcohol consumption. We can help you by identifying resources that can provide you with information and support. Call our toll-free number any time; we are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have about binge drinking.