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 tat 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.
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