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Alcohol Misuse

In the military, alcohol misuse can impact mission readiness and productivity, as well as service members’ physical and mental health. The Department of Defense (DOD) regularly tracks alcohol use in the military. Findings from the 2018 Department of Defense Health Related Behaviors Survey of Active Duty Military Personnel indicated that 34 percent of service members were engaged in binge drinking (consuming five or more drinks on the same occasion for men and four or more drinks on the same occasion for women), 9.8 percent drank heavily (binge drinking on at least one or two days a week), and 6.2 percent experienced one or more serious consequences from drinking. The percentage of both binge drinking and heavy drinking was highest in the Marine Corps, and the Air Force had the lowest percentages of these drinking patterns.

The 2015 VA/DOD Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Substance Use Disorders provides guidance relating to screening for alcohol misuse and recommended treatment options. Providers should also stay apprised of the latest DOD policy guidance on substance misuse. The Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE) has created substance use disorder clinical support tools for providers, patients, and families based on the guidance in the clinical practice guideline.

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ADAPT: Champions Promoting healthy relationships with alcohol

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Senior Airman Stephanie Augst, 18th Operational Readiness Medical Squadron Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment technician, gives an alcohol abuse briefing at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 10, 2021. An ADAPT Champion is encouraged to speak at commander’s calls and host unit newcomers briefings to ensure they are a visible and familiar resource to their units.

People choose to drink alcohol for a variety of reasons — some drink to enhance social experiences while others drink as an avenue to escape their everyday problems.

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Last Updated: August 18, 2021

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