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RAND Epstein Family Veterans Policy Research Institute

Alcohol and Substance Use Among U.S. Veterans

Substance Use Behaviors

Nearly one-quarter of all veterans report binge drinking within the past month. Post-9/11 veterans consistently have higher rates of all substance use behaviors than pre-9/11 veterans.

Veterans' past-month binge drinking
All veterans
22.9%
Pre-9/11
19.9%
Post-9/11
36.5%
Veterans' past-year marijuana use
All veterans
10.2%
Pre-9/11
8.4%
Post-9/11
18.7%
Veterans' past-year opioid misuse
All veterans
2.9%
Pre-9/11
2.6%
Post-9/11
4.7%
Veterans' past-year illicit drug use
All veterans
5.5%
Pre-9/11
4.5%
Post-9/11
10.1%

Alcohol and Drug Use Disorders

Post-9/11 veterans have higher rates of alcohol and drug use disorders than pre-9/11 veterans.

Veterans' past-year alcohol use disorder
All veterans
4.9%
Pre-9/11
4.2%
Post-9/11
8.0%
Veterans' past-year drug use disorder
All veterans
1.6%
Pre-9/11
1.3%
Post-9/11
2.9%

Alcohol/Drug Treatment

Relative to prevalence of alcohol and drug use disorders, rates of treatment utilization for alcohol and drug problems suggest unmet treatment need for alcohol and drug problems among veterans.

Veterans' past-year alcohol/drug treatment
All veterans
1.4%
Pre-9/11
1.2%
Post-9/11
2.3%

SOURCE: Features information from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, pooled 2015–2019.

NOTE: Pre-9/11 veterans are veterans who served exclusively prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Post-9/11 veterans are those who have served in any capacity since that date.

This infographic describes work done in RAND Education and Labor and documented in A Summary of Veteran-Related Statistics, by Eric Robinson, Justin W. Lee, Teague Ruder, Megan S. Schuler, Gilad Wenig, Carrie M. Farmer, Jessica Phillips, and Rajeev Ramchand, RR-A1363-5, 2023 (available at www.rand.org/t/RRA1363-5). To view this infographic online, visit www.rand.org/t/IGA1363-4

© 2023 RAND Corporation

IG-A1363-4

Research conducted by

Funding for this publication was made possible by a generous gift from Daniel J. Epstein through the Epstein Family Foundation. The research was conducted by the RAND Epstein Family Veterans Policy Research Institute within RAND Education and Labor.

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