For years the UK military has used alcohol education as a means of combating dangerous drinking.This approach is being called into question by Prof Neil Greenberg, the lead on military health at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Greenberg said that educating soldiers about the dangers of alcohol does nothing to keep them from drinking dangerously. Many soldiers even see drinking as crucial to group unity. Despite civilian and military studies showing alcohol education does not lower drinking levels, the military still uses a yearly alcohol education brief as its only alcohol awareness training.
Greenberg said, "For many years the military have relied heavily on alcohol education, so for instance soldiers would have to have a brief every year that tells them drinking is bad for them. The problem is we know that alcohol education doesn't really work at all, and the evidence from the civilian population is that it's a terribly ineffective way of stopping people from drinking."
Once study which highlights the extent of the militaries drinking problem comes from research carried out in 2013. The study shows 65% of personnel were drinking enough to qualify as “high risk”. The failure of the militaries alcohol training is further highlighted by statements made by The Commons Defence Select Committee. They claim that the governments plans have made no noticeable impact on the excessive drinking in the military.
Other critics claim that the militaries low alcohol prices further contribute to it’s drinking problems. With some bases serving alcohol at less than £2 per pint, soldiers can drink for very little.
With many soldiers returning from active duty, the need for effective alcohol treatment is huge. Soldiers who return from active duty are more likely to drink to excess and soldiers who misuse alcohol are also more likely to commit violent offences. Many of these soldiers will be transitioning from like as a soldier where heavy drinking is seen as the norm, to civilian life. This means their drinking habits could also hurt their chances of gaining employment and damage their relationships with loved ones.
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