US Iraq and Afghan troops prone to alcohol abuse

Military researchers say many American soldiers returning home from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned to alcohol to drown their nightmarish memories of combat.

According to the research, those most likely to fall into the pit of alcohol abuse are those young men and women who have a history of heavy drinking before being called to duty.

Increased alcohol outcomes among Reserve/Guard personnel deployed with combat exposures is concerning in light of increased reliance (on these) forces by the Pentagon, the report said.

Active-duty Marines were also found to be at increased odds of continuing to binge drink after deployment, as well as to experience new-onset alcohol-related problems, wrote Isabel Jacobs and colleagues at the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, California.

Men who consume more than 14 alcoholic drinks per week and women who indulge in more than seven were considered heavy drinkers in the undertaking of the study. Problems related to alcohol dependence were defined as hangovers, drunkenness and inability to function at work or other tasks.

The results of the research, which surveyed 48,400 service members, showed that 31 percent of combat veterans were more likely to start drinking heavily compared to those not having been in combat situations.

These findings agreed with a recent study showing that 12 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq and 15 percent of Reserve and National Guard members had alcohol problems.