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Substance Abuse Risks Among Veterans

According to substance abuse data from the annual National Survey of Drug Use and Health (2002-2009), female veterans of the United States are much less likely than male veterans to binge drink, smoke cigarettes or use illicit drugs. However, both genders are equally likely to abuse prescription drugs (Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality).

Since the 1970s, the number of women serving in the military has significantly increased with more women deployed to combat areas including combat support. Not only are women dealing with many of the same service-related stressors, they often encounter additional stress from being a female in a male-dominated profession. Despite this, 23 percent reported binge drinking in the past 30 days compared 43 percent of the male servicemen.

Previous studies have shown the increased risks for substance abuse and dependency among veterans compared to non-veterans, but few data analysis have compared men and women veterans. The finding that both genders are equally at-risk for prescription drug abuse is consistent with previous posts about the nation’s epidemic. As reported back in March, the military is trying to curb the amount of prescription drugs given to the troops after a study found that almost 3.8 million prescriptions for painkillers were written by military doctors for troops last year.

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