San Francisco, Calif., – Male military veterans with a history of heavy
alcohol use are more likely to seek treatment and, later, report better overall
health and less depression than their civilian counterparts, according to new
research released today at the American Public Health Association’s 140th
Annual Meeting in San Francisco, Calif.
According to the National
Institutes of Health-funded research from the Public Health Institute’s Alcohol
Research Group, 29 percent of veterans under 50 years old who reported a long
history of heavy alcohol use sought treatment for alcohol dependence compared
with just 17 percent of their civilian counterparts. Among these younger men
who continued to drink heavily into their 30s, civilians were more than twice
as likely (35 percent) to report current depression than veterans (15 percent).
The research also found
that younger veterans who report a history of heavy drinking in their 30s
reported better overall health and less depression than veterans who did not
report heavy drinking in their 30s.
“The findings suggest not
only that Veterans Affairs treatment is available to help young veterans who
have a history of heavy drinking, but that it is an effective service outreach
to young veterans that can improve their health and overall quality of life” said
Katherine Karriker-Jaffe, PhD, researcher at the Public Health Institute and
APHA Annual Meeting presenter. “Those younger veterans without alcohol or drug
problems may benefit from additional outreach from targeted services to improve
their mental and physical health.”
Results were analyzed from
the 2010 National Alcohol Survey. Heavy drinking was defined as drinking five
or more drinks at a time at least once a week. Military service was not
associated with heavy drinking histories of older men, although veterans over 49
years old were somewhat more likely than civilians to report heavy drinking in
the year prior to the interview.
APHA’s 140th Annual Meeting is themed “Prevention
and Wellness Across the Lifespan” and will focus on the importance of
environmental, social and behavioral issues that impact health at all stages of