CitationShirvani, Mojtaba; Reed, Mark B.; & Clingan, Sarah (2017). The relationship between emerging adult alcohol eonsumption and military enlistment. Military Medicine. vol. 182 (9-10) pp. e1731-e1737
AbstractBACKGROUND: The use and abuse of alcohol among active duty personnel is well documented in the research literature. Over the last decade rates of heavy and excessive drinking within the military have increased significantly, coinciding with both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The heavy use of alcohol by military personnel can be attributed to multiple factors such as the psychosocial and environmental stressors of military life and is frequently linked to mental health issues, the transient nature of the armed forces, the number and length of deployments, and exposure to life-threatening situations in combat environments. However, it is also likely rates of heavy alcohol use in the military are influenced by the possibility that individuals who already drink heavily choose to enlist in the armed services. The purpose of the present study was to test the association between drinking in emerging adulthood and military enlistment in a nationally representative sample of participants. METHODS: Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), we tested the relationship between alcohol consumption in emerging adulthood and military enlistment in a sample of young adults ages 24 to 32 (n = 12,288). Results were stratified for men and women. FINDINGS: Results of the multivariate logistic regression models stratified by gender indicated male participants who reported consuming alcohol in the past year were more likely to join the military relative to nondrinkers after controlling for respondent age, race, and education. There were no significant associations between alcohol consumption and military enlistment for women. DISCUSSION: These findings demonstrate limited support for a relationship between alcohol consumption and military service. For men who drink, choosing military service may be influenced by the culture of drinking within the armed services. However, given the limited support found in the present study for a link between drinking in emerging adulthood and military service, the current high use of alcohol among active duty personnel is likely influenced by socialization processes within the military as well as from the stress of increased deployments to life-threatening combat situations. These results have important implications for informing policy and prevention programs within the armed services to improve both the short-term and long-term success of military service members.
Reference TypeJournal Article
Journal TitleMilitary Medicine
Reed, Mark B.