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Addiction. 2016 Oct;111(10):1786-94. doi: 10.1111/add.13423. Epub 2016 May 26.

The burden of alcohol use disorders in US military veterans: results from the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study.

Author information

1
VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT, USA. fuehrlein@gmail.com.
2
Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA. fuehrlein@gmail.com.
3
Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.
4
VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT, USA.
5
Clinical Neurosciences Division, US Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, West Haven, CT, USA.

Abstract

AIMS:

To analyze data from a large, contemporary, nationally representative sample of US veterans to evaluate: (1) the prevalence of life-time alcohol use disorder (AUD) and past-year AUD; (2) common psychiatric comorbidities associated with life-time AUD; and (3) correlates of life-time and past-year probable AUD.

DESIGN:

Data were analyzed from the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study (NHRVS), a web-based survey of a random probability sample of a contemporary, nationally representative sample of US military veterans.

SETTING:

United States.

PARTICIPANTS:

Nationally representative sample of 3157 US veterans aged 21 years and older.

MEASUREMENTS:

Life-time alcohol abuse and dependence were assessed according to DSM-IV diagnostic criteria using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview, and combined into a single variable: AUD. Past-year probable AUD was assessed using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C). Correlates of AUD, including psychiatric comorbidities, suicidality and demographic characteristics, were also assessed.

FINDINGS:

The prevalence of life-time AUD and past-year probable AUD was 42.2% [95% confidence interval (CI) = 40.5-43.9%)] and 14.8% (95% CI = 13.6-16.0%), respectively. Compared with veterans without AUD, those with life-time AUD had substantially elevated rates of life-time and current mood and anxiety disorders [odds ratios (ORs) = 2.6-4.1], drug use disorder (OR = 10.7), life-time suicide attempt (OR = 4.1) and current suicidal ideation (OR = 2.1). Younger age, male sex, lower education, lower annual household income and greater number of life-time traumatic events were associated independently with life-time AUD. Younger age, male sex, unpartnered marital status and a life-time diagnosis of major depressive disorder were associated independently with past-year probable AUD.

CONCLUSIONS:

More than 40% of US military veterans have a life-time history of alcohol use disorder. Veterans with a life-time history of alcohol use disorder have substantial comorbid psychiatric burden, including elevated rates of suicidal ideation and attempts. Certain socio-demographic (e.g. younger age, male sex, lower education) and clinical (e.g. trauma burden, history of depression) characteristics are associated with increased risk of AUD.

KEYWORDS:

Alcohol use disorder; anxiety disorder; comorbidity; dual diagnosis; epidemiology; military; mood disorder; veterans

PMID:
27061707
DOI:
10.1111/add.13423
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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