Patterns of drinking in the UK Armed Forces

October, 2007

This paper examines patterns of drinking in the UK Armed Forces, how they vary according to gender and other demographics, and how these patterns compare with those observed in the general population.


Sixty‐seven per cent of men and 49% of women in the UK Armed Forces had an AUDIT score of 8+ (defined as hazardous drinking), compared to 38% of men and 16% of women in the general population. In both sexes, for all ages, the military have a higher prevalence of hazardous drinking. Binge drinking was associated with being younger, being in the Army, being single, being a smoker and being white. Among military men, heavy drinking (AUDIT score 16+) was associated with holding a lower rank, being younger, being single, being in the Naval Service or Army, being deployed to Iraq, not having children, being a smoker, having a combat role and having a parent with a drink or drug problem. Excessive alcohol consumption is more common in the UK Armed Forces than in the general population. There are certain socio‐demographic characteristics associated with heavy drinking within the military; for example, young age, being single and being a smoker, which may allow the targeting of preventive interventions.

Full Reference

Fear, N. T., Iversen, A., Meltzer, H., Workman, L., Hull, L., Greenberg, N., Barker, C., Browne, T., Earnshaw, M., Horn, O., Jones, M., Murphy, D., Rona, R. J., Hotopf, M. and Wessely, S., 2007. Patterns of drinking in the UK Armed Forces. Addiction, 102(11), pp. 1749-1759. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2007.01978.x.

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