Alcohol abuse prevalent in miltary, studies show
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Alcohol abuse prevalent in miltary, studies show

Army needs to double counselors to treat troops, general says

Alcoholism is so rampant among soldiers that the Army needs to double its number of counselors, said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army's No. 2 officer.

Last year, 9,199 soldiers sought treatment after being diagnosed with alcohol problems, a 56% increase over 2003, when the Iraq war started, according to Army records released Monday. Overall, 16,388 sought some type of counseling, data show, reported USA Today

"There's no doubt in my mind that since 2001 and being involved in two wars . . . that we probably have a higher incidence of alcohol abuse," Chiarelli said.

The Army wants more counselors to expand the program throughout the service, Horne said. The Army should have one counselor for every 1,600 soldiers instead of the current target of one for every 2,000, he said. No cost estimate was given for the additional counselors.

Binge drinking is also a concern, reports addictioninfo.org. A survey of more than 16,000 personnel shows that 43 percent acknowledged binge drinking within one month of the question. Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks at one occasion for women and five or more for men.

That report also found:

  • The number of per-capita episodes of binge drinking was highest in the Marine Corps (38.3 per person per year) and lowest in the Air Force (17.3 per person per year).
  • The number of per-capita episodes was highest in the younger age groups and declined with age.
  • Men - comprising 85.3 percent of all personnel -- were twice as likely to report binge drinking in the past month than women (46.6 percent vs. 24.1 percent).
  • Whites accounted for most of the episodes (69 percent), but Hispanics had the highest per-capita rate (34.1 per person per year).

It's not just American troops dealing with alcohol abuse. In 2007, The Telegraph wrote about a report found that Britain's Armed Forces had three times more men and nine times more women who binged than civilians.

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