Alcohol, not stress disorder, is bigger problem for UK troops

Friday 14th May, 2010

Last year we published a story about a counselling project helping soldiers cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. Now a new study suggests that alcohol abuse is a bigger problem than stress for British servicemen and women in war zones.

Troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq are 22 per cent more likely to consume hazardous levels of alcohol than those who are not deployed into action.

Research carried out by King’s College London has identified mental health problems and PTSD rates to be roughly the same as in 2003. However, one in ten respondents to a survey claimed they were drinking alcohol at a level that is described by the World Health Organisation as ‘hazardous’.

The study by the college’s Academic Centre for Defence Mental Health also stated that reservists sent to war zones are more vulnerable to mental health problems than regular troops who were more likely to abuse alcohol.

Nearly 10,000 personnel participated in the study with one in five reporting signs of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression or insomnia.

New Defence Secretary Liam Fox has promised a compulsory psychiatric test for troops discharged from the Armed Forces but authors of this latest study believe there should be a focus on the culture of binge drinking that is developing for servicemen and women before and after deployment.

Combat Stress, a charity that helps Armed Forces personnel with mental health problems, said it had seen a 66 per cent rise in the demand for its service over the last five years.



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