Study Of Alcohol Abuse Among U.S. Troops

As our troops return from war, some of them are dealing with something new: Heavy drinking and binge drinking.

It's in a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

There is help for the troops, but this is a Department of Defense study done to understand problem drinking among our troops who have seen combat.

Then the findings can guide military leaders and others in changing policies, and finding new prevention strategies.

Isabel Jacobson is a researcher with the Department of Defense Center for Deployment Health Research.

She says, "We saw an increased risk in newly reported heavy weekly drinking, newly reported binge drinking and newly reported alcohol-related problems.

According to the study, Jacobson and her team analyzed data from more than 48,000 servicemen and women across all branches of the U.S. military.

Jacobson says, "Our findings showed that the individuals who deployed and reported combat exposures were at increased risk for newly reported alcohol behaviors."

At Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson there is a unique program through the Department of Justice and the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety to keep airmen from getting into trouble when they drink.

It's a three-year pilot program that is seeing results.

Air Force Lt. Col. Jim DeLong is the Chairman of the Culture of Responsible Choices, or CoRC, at Davis-Monthan.

He says "What we try to do is provide our airmen with alternative activities on the weekends, late at night--normally when young airmen might get in trouble. We've had dodgeball tournaments, basketball tournaments. Anything our airmen want to do."

DeLong says CoRC is open to everyone, including members of other service branches.

The military also provide medical programs for servicemen and women who find themselves with a drinking problem, whether they've seen combat or not.

But DeLong says when airmen have experienced the CoRC program, it might be just one of the things they can turn to when they return from combat.

He says, "When they come back, if they know the program's there, and they've experienced it and enjoyed it, I think it can benefit those young airmen because they're not searching for something. They already know it's there.

The CoRC prevention program at Davis-Monthan is only a pilot program at just five U.S. air force bases.

There's no guarantee it will be funded permanently.

But it's open to everyone, including Reserve and National Guard personnel.

And the Defense Department study has found those troops are at the highest risk of having