FRIDAY, Aug. 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Women who serve in the U.S. military are less likely to drink alcohol than their civilian peers, a new study suggests.
Overall, members of the military are more likely to consume alcohol. However, these researchers found that women respond differently to their experience in the military than men. This may be due to concerns about sexual harassment or being treated unfairly, they suggested.
“Alcohol use is tightly linked to sexual assault, both within and outside the military, and women who serve may become particularly aware of this linkage,” the study authors wrote. “It may also be the case that in order to justify their place in the military that women abstain from using alcohol.”
In conducting the study, published online July 31 in the journal Armed Forces & Society, Jay Teachman, Carter Anderson and Lucky Tedrow, all of Western Washington University in Bellingham, examined the alcohol use of nearly 9,000 U.S. service members or veterans. The men and women completed surveys on their alcohol consumption in the past 30 days.
After analyzing the responses, the investigators also found the longer someone serves in the military, the more likely they are to drink.
Exposure to combat was also linked to alcohol use — regardless of gender. The men and women who served in a combat zone were the most likely to drink, the study authors pointed out in a journal news release.
“Our models, while not perfect, provide evidence that military service leads to more alcohol consumption among service members than would have been the case if they had not served,” Teachman and colleagues concluded. “This finding should provide for increased emphasis on efforts to reduce the culture of alcohol consumption in the military.”
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about substance abuse in the military.