In a review of the long-term health impact of military service, MPs have warned that dangerous levels of alcohol consumption are becoming ‘the norm’ and that more must be done to understand the links between deployment, alcohol misuse and violent behaviour.
In studies carried out by the King’s College Military Health Research (KCMHR) unit, it was found that alcohol misuse is higher in the military than in civilian populations. Men who had fought in Iraq and Afghanistan were 53 percent more likely than non-combat colleagues to commit a violent offence and that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol misuse were also major factors.
Commenting on the study, MPs added:
“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.”
It was found that between 6 and 7 percent of troops who have witnessed combat will suffer from PTSD - approximately double the rate compared to the general population. There is no doubt that this plays a big part of the reason why many of those in the armed forces turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism.
Although the government has invested more than £7 million to improve the mental health services that are available and is taking action to reduce alcohol misuse in the armed forces, MPs are still concerned about the fact that no noticeable impact has been made on the levels of excessive and binge drinking.
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