Members of the armed forces are not immune to the substance use problems that affect the rest of society. Although illicit drug use is lower among U.S. military personnel than among civilians, heavy alcohol and tobacco use, and especially prescription drug abuse, are much more prevalent and are on the rise.
The stresses of deployment during wartime and the unique culture of the military account for some of these differences. Zero-tolerance policies and stigma pose difficulties in identifying and treating substance use problems in military personnel, as does the perceived lack of confidentiality that deters some from seeking treatment.
Those with multiple deployments and combat exposure have the greatest risk of developing substance abuse problems. They are more apt to engage in new-onset heavy weekly drinking and binge drinking, to suffer alcohol- and other drug-related problems, and to have greater prescribed use of behavioral health medications. They are also more likely to start smoking or relapse to smoking.
If you are concerned about your alcohol consumption, small changes can make a big difference in reducing your chances of having alcohol-related problems. Whatever strategies you choose, give them a fair trial. If one approach doesn't work, try something else. But if you haven't made progress in cutting down after two to three months, consider quitting drinking altogether, seeking professional help, or both.
Here are some strategies related to alcohol use:
For an interactive version of these tips, including a format that allows you to enter your own personal tips and strategies, visit Rethinking Drinking - Tips to Try.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism