Dangerous drinking is widespread in every branch of the armed forces according to a new review from the House of Commons Defence Committee.
Research shows that military personnel drink more than their civilian counterparts, regardless of their service or gender. Despite the MoD investing £7.2 million into mental health services, this culture of drinking does not appear to be changing.
MPs have said that, “too many members of the armed forces appear to believe that alcohol is integral to group cohesion or that alcohol is an appropriate way of coping with a return from a military deployment”.
This attitude shows a complete lack of healthy coping mechanisms and leaves military personnel at great risk.
Members of the armed services are also more likely to act out violently especially in relation to family. This puts military members family’s at far greater risk of domestic violence.
When alcohol abuse mixes with PTSD and there are no appropriate coping mechanisms in place, the outcome is bound to be damaging for soldiers and their families. This could help explain the higher rates of violence among current and former military men and women.
MPs are calling for more to be done to understand the links between deployment, alcohol misuse and violence but with the problem already festering in many current and former service members, any actions taken may be too late for some.
More worrying is the fact that each branch of the military already runs alcohol awareness campaigns. These efforts have not had any noticeable impact on the level of alcohol abuse according to MPs. That means that the current methods being used are most likely ineffective or woefully underutilised. That means any new attempt to control soldiers drinking must be redesigned from the ground up using the lessons learned from the failed former treatment methods.
Without this help, military personnel will continue to struggle with alcohol abuse and their families will suffer as a consequence.