The Culture of Alcohol in the U.S. Military

Correlations With Problematic Drinking Behaviors and Negative Consequences of Alcohol Use

Published in: Armed Forces & Society (2022). doi: 10.1177/0095327X211069162

Posted on RAND.org on February 08, 2022

by Sarah O. Meadows, Robin L. Beckman, Charles C. Engel, Diana D. Jeffery

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Excessive alcohol use, especially binge and heavy drinking, represents a serious threat to force readiness across the Department of Defense. Though these behaviors are a matter of individual service member choice, they are influenced by perceptions of the culture of alcohol use in the military. This paper uses data from the 2018 Health Related Behaviors Survey of Active Duty service members to explore associations between perceived alcohol culture and excessive alcohol use, any serious drinking consequences, risky driving behaviors, productivity loss due to drinking, absenteeism, and presenteeism. Results from multivariate logistic regression reveal a strong, positive correlation between positive perceptions of drinking culture in the military and all outcomes. Targeting perceptions of the drinking culture is one way the military can reduce excessive and unhealthy use of alcohol and negative sequelae.

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