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Deployments Associated with Alcohol Use in Air Force

Posted in Alcohol Abuse

Current deployment schedules are often longer than in the past, in addition to requiring Air Force members to deploy more often. Deployments can sometimes increase stress for the deployed members, with problem behaviors often surfacing during deployment.

It is important to understand these behaviors and the factors that influence their development during deployment. A recent study examined the relationship between various factors during deployment and consumption of alcohol among Air Force members. The study was conducted by Christopher Spera, Randall K. Thomas, Frances Barlas, Ronald Szoc, and Milton H. Cambridge.

The researchers used data originally collected as part of the Air Force Community Assessment survey. The survey was an anonymous online questionnaire of Air Force personnel. It was administered to a stratified random group of active duty Air Force members. There were a total of 56,137 participants across 80 bases worldwide. 78 percent of the participants were male; 22 percent were female.

Information was collected about alcohol use and about deployment history. To establish an understanding of the Air Force members’ possible alcohol problems, the research team used The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test. To assess deployment histories, the team asked a series of questions that gathered information about various facets of deployment experience.

The research team used logistic regression analysis to determine how problem drinking was influenced by different aspects of deployment. The researchers controlled for certain demographics that may influence the likelihood of developing an alcohol use disorder.

The results indicated that deployment was a significant influence on the drinking habits of Air Force members since September 11, 2001. A higher frequency of deployment and a greater length of time deployed were both associated with a higher likelihood of developing problem drinking behaviors.

The connection was significant. When an Air Force member was required to be deployed more frequently, the odds of becoming a problem drinker increased by 14 percent. For each additional year spent deployed, the odds of becoming a problem drinker were raised by 23 percent.

The findings of the study show a significant relationship between deployment and drinking behaviors. The research highlights a need for examining the possible factors involved that may cause an increase in risky drinking behaviors during deployment.

Further research is required to examine possible effective strategies for education and intervention among Air Force members who expect to be deployed. Learning alternate forms of relaxation, stress relief and recreation during deployment may be possible, but it is necessary to first understand the underlying causes of increased alcohol consumption during deployment.