Online Program

Differences in self-reported episodic drinking and feeling drunk in the u.s. military

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

William Higgins, Ph.D, Public Health and Survey Research Division, ICF International, Fairfax, VA
Jacqueline Pflieger, Ph.D., Public Health and Survey Research Division, ICF International, Fairfax, VA
Frances Barlas, Ph.D., Public Health and Survey Research Division, ICF International, Fairfax, VA
Diana Jeffery, Ph.D., Defense Health Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, TRICARE Management Activity, Falls Church, VA
Mark Mattiko, M.Ed., United States Coast Guard, Washington, DC
Benedict Diniega, M.D., Clinical & Program Policy (C&PP), Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Falls Church, VA
Maureen Forsythe, TRICARE Management Activity (DHCAPE), Falls Church, VA
Purpose: Alcohol use in the Armed Forces is a major topic of interest to health professionals and military leadership. The aims of this study are 1) to examine differences between the number of drinks military personnel reported they needed to feel drunk in the past year and the largest number of drinks they reported consuming on one occasion in the past 30 days; and 2) to explore factors associated with different patterns of self-reported alcohol use. Differences are examined in regard to current age, age at first use, alcohol use facilitators (e.g., to celebrate, to forget problems) and deterrents (e.g., upset family or friends, negatively affect career). Methods: This study utilizes data from the 2011 Health Related Behaviors Survey of Active Duty Military Personnel. The sample (n=39,877) was stratified to ensure representativeness by service, gender, and paygrade, and the survey was conducted online. Results: Over 30% of all active duty service members drank more than the number of drinks they reported needing to feel drunk, and 43% drank the same number of drinks they reported needing to feel drunk. Of the underage personnel who reported drinking, almost 72% reported drinking enough to feel drunk on one occasion in the past month; they also reported several facilitators (e.g., like to drink) as “very important” almost twice as often as those who drank the same number or fewer drinks to feel drunk. Conclusion: Results inform prevention and treatment strategies by identifying motivators of drinking behavior for individuals who regularly consume alcohol.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Assess patterns of drinking behavior among active duty military members, specifically examining underage personnel. Evaluate various facilitators and barriers to drinking behavior in the active duty military to determine the extent prevention and treatment strategies can utilize these measures. Compare drinking behaviors in the past month between underage and legal age by self-reported drinking intensity level.

Keyword(s): Alcohol Use

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have several years’ experience working with topics concerning military and veteran populations, family and child development, and educational evaluations. Recently I has worked on projects for multiple federal agencies on customer satisfaction, election statistics, and health related issues using both web and paper survey forms. I have also worked with a team at the University of Tennessee in collecting and analyzing data from parents of young children with special needs.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.