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Prevalence and correlates of alcohol misuse among returning Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Burnett-Zeigler, I., M. Ilgen, M. Valenstein, Kara Zivin, L. Gorman, A. Blow, S. Duffy, and S. Chermack. 2011. "Prevalence and correlates of alcohol misuse among returning Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans." Addictive Behaviors, 36(8): 801-806.

Objective: Several studies have reported high rates of alcohol misuse and low rates of substance use treatment among OEF/OIF military service members. This study assessed the prevalence and correlates of alcohol misuse and the factors associated with treatment utilization among recently returned National Guard service members. Methods: The sample included 585 members of the National Guard who volunteered to complete an anonymous survey assessing mental health and substance use problems, functional status, and past treatment experiences. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed examining the significance of associations between alcohol misuse and mental health service use as outcomes and demographic variables, mental health symptoms, and military service characteristics as predictors. Barriers to treatment and factors facilitating treatment were also examined. Results: Thirty-six percent of the service members met criteria for alcohol misuse. Of those misusing alcohol, 31% reported receiving any mental health treatment and 2.5% reported receiving specific substance use treatment in the past year. The barrier to treatment most commonly endorsed by those misusing alcohol was concern that the information about treatment would appear in their records. Among those misusing alcohol who had received services, spouses were most commonly endorsed as facilitating the pursuit of care. Conclusions: Rates of alcohol misuse are high and rates of substance use treatment are low among National Guard service members. Additional research is needed to identify means of overcoming barriers to care and establish more effective approaches to facilitate linkage to care and receipt of appropriate interventions. Published by Elsevier Ltd

DOI:10.1016/j.addbeh.2010.12.032 (Full Text)

Country of focus: United States.

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