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HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Drinking motivations in UK serving and ex-serving military personnel

January, 2021
Article:

This paper explores the drinking motivations within the UK military and demographic, military and mental health associations.

Abstract

Drinking motivations within the UK military have not been studied despite the high prevalence of alcohol misuse in this group. We aimed to characterize drinking motivations and their demographic, military and mental health associations in UK serving and ex-serving personnel. Exploratory factor analysis of drinking motivations in military personnel (n = 1279; response rate = 84.6%) yielded 2 factors, labelled ‘drinking to cope’ and ‘social pressure’. Higher drinking to cope motivations were associated with probable anxiety (rate ratio [RR] = 1.4; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.3–1.5), depression (RR = 1.3; 95% CI = 1.2–1.4) and post-traumatic stress disorder (RR = 1.4; 95% CI = 1.3–1.6). Higher social pressure motivations were associated with probable anxiety (odds ratio = 1.1; 95% CI = 1.0–1.1). Alcohol misuse and binge drinking were associated with reporting higher drinking to cope motivations, drinking at home and drinking alone. Amongst military personnel with a stress, emotional or mental health problem, those who drink to cope with mental disorder symptoms or because of social pressure, in addition to those who drink at home or drink alone, are more likely to also drink excessively.

Full Reference

P Irizar, D Leightley, S Stevelink, R Rona, N Jones, K Gouni, J-A Puddephatt, N Fear, S Wessely, L Goodwin, Drinking motivations in UK serving and ex-serving military personnel, Occupational Medicine, Volume 70, Issue 4, June 2020, Pages 259–267, https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqaa003.

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