Alcohol Problems

Patterns and Prevalence in the U.S. Air Force

by J Michael Polich, Bruce R. Orvis

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Examines the nature and extent of alcohol-related problems among Air Force and comparable populations, based on special surveys, official records, and alcoholic beverage sales data. Two distinct types of alcohol problems are identified: alcohol dependence, a severe and chronic condition linked to alcoholism; and adverse effects of alcohol, such as health impairment, decreased productivity, or social disruption. 13.9 percent of Air Force personnel are estimated to be affected, with 4.6 percent among these classified as dependent. Results show that the patterns and rates of alcohol problems in the military services are similar to those found in comparable civilian groups. The analysis isolates important behavioral risk factors, such as frequent heavy drinking, intoxication, and social warnings, that may be used as precursory signals of more serious problems.

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