Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Binge Drinking and the Military

In exploring the Blog Catalog, I stumbled across the Addiction Index blog which had a great article about binge drinking in the military. This is such a viable topic these days with the wars going on in the Middle East that I thought I'd grab some of the information and pass it along here.

"Binge drinking is so common in America's armed forces that startling numbers of those who serve on military bases report for work drunk, drive drunk and drink illegally while they are underage, according to a study released today by the University of Minnesota and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."- this is from the article in the Minnesota Post. The survey covered soldiers at home and overseas, and an astonishing 25% reported a history of drunk driving. Can we point to the fact that their lives are some dangerous that they seek risk even when off duty?

In an interview with a University of Minnesota radio station, Mandy Stahre, a researcher on the project said that 43 percent of the active respondents reported binge drinking in the past month. That broke down to 29.7 incidents of binge drinking per person per year. That's a huge and dangerous number. How do we better educate these service men and women?

An article in the Chicago Tribune touched on the increase in suicide of soldiers. "The Department of Veterans Affairs tracks the number of suicides among those who have left the military. It says there have been 144 suicides among the nearly 500,000 service members who left the military from 2002-2005 after fighting in at least one of the wars." The website wsws.org reported that in 2008, there were 128 confirmed suicides by serving army personnel and 41 by serving marines.

Now we've started to see progress, with the military providing classes on suicide prevention and alcohol abuse. But how do we truly improve this? It's not like we can take away the trauma that soldiers suffer while on active duty. Our Veterans Affairs offices are already swamped with cases and are underfunded. How do we fix this? The easiest solution- provide more funding to attract better researchers and addictional clinicians. However- that would increase taxes, something more than half the country is against, even though it goes towards making our soldiers safer. Some things to think about as we move forward.

Here's the suicide prevention video:

And here's one about the binge drinking in the military:

Here's my favorite new website.

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