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Alcohol abuse is more prevalent in the armed forces than in post-traumatic stress disorder

  Armed Forces Drink App
Can an app help people in the armed forces reduce their alcohol intake? Photo: Daniel Leightley (CC BY-SA)

Alcohol has been used The United Kingdom forces were formerly used to foster attachment and to deal with difficult experiences, and while alcohol consumption is now declining, the harmful drinking in the armed forces is still twice as high as in the general population.

From this point of view, about 1

1% of men and 5% of women in the British armed forces meet the criteria for alcohol abuse. This means that they drink at a level that is likely to be harmful to your health.

Compare this with about 4% of men and 2% of women in the general population Many of those who drink in the armed forces on a harmful level do not recognize that they have a problem.

A common problem

People serving in the armed forces drink alcohol for various reasons – for pleasure because of soci all burdens and coping with everyday stress or mental health problems. Mental health problems are more common in the armed forces, so it is not surprising that alcohol is often used to deal with them.

The consequences of excessive alcohol consumption are far-reaching and can directly affect families of men or women. Research has also shown that alcohol consumption does not decrease as people leave the armed forces and drinking culture.

Alcohol abuse is more prevalent in the armed forces than in post-traumatic stress disorder, but it is much less noticed. Within this community, only a third of respondents who have informed themselves about a drinking problem state that they have sought help. This means that the vast majority of those who need to reduce their consumption of alcohol do not.

Alcohol Problems

It is understandable that the stigma of being referred to as an "alcoholic" can keep people from getting help. However, there is also the problem that many of those who would benefit from reducing their alcohol intake do not really meet the criteria for alcohol abuse. This is despite the fact that they may be above the recommended guidelines. This is important, as recent results show that even moderate alcohol consumption has a negative impact on health.

Our preliminary research has shown that many people who are worried about drinking or wanting to know how much they consume rely on alcohol apps to monitor the problem. The most popular apps include Drink Less, Drink Aware and Drink Free Days, where users are encouraged to record and monitor their alcohol consumption on a regular basis (via visual graphs).

And this technology clearly has value, as research suggests that these types of apps can be at least as effective as personal, direct interventions for alcohol.


Our project, a collaborative research project funded by the Medical Research Council between the King's Center for Military Health Research and the University of Liverpool, aimed to find out if an app could also help people in the armed forces can reduce their powers drinking.

We have developed an app that allows people to monitor and control their alcohol consumption. The app allows users to set goals and compare their alcohol consumption with civilians and other members of the armed forces.

The algorithms can also autonomously detect behavioral changes and offer real-time support to the patient – while it could be used in parallel to alert healthcare professionals to intervene.

To test the app, we conducted a four-week study with 31 members of the armed forces drinking at dangerous levels. According to our first findings, the app could be helpful to help people with problems with alcohol abuse.

In our study, we found that participants had opened the app 29 times on average over the four-week period. All participants used the drink diary feature of the app to monitor their alcohol consumption throughout the study period. At the beginning of the study, participants consumed a median of 5.6 units per drinking day, which decreased to 4.7 units in the last week.

Although our study highlighted that despite the use of the app, many of the participants who drink a lot still did not feel they had a problem. This may explain why some features of the app, such as: As "goal setting", not so much as the drink diary were used.

The Right Support

Research has shown that people who drink too much eventually need support to learn more about their own drinking habits and how to reduce them – and we hope that our app can help , 19659003] We now hope to further refine the app and take into account the feedback from our feasibility study, which culminates in a public release at the end of this year.

Considering that harmful drinking in the armed forces is much higher than in the population and in the population This research has shown how effective digital technologies can be as an intervention in health care. We hope that our app has the potential to tackle the problem culture of alcohol consumption in the British armed forces.

This article was written by Daniel Leightley, Postdoctoral, Research Associate, King's College London ; Jo-Anne Puddephatt, Doctoral Student in the Addictions Group, Liverpool University ; Laura Goodwin, Lecturer in Epidemiology of Mental Health and Addiction, Liverpool University and Nicola Fear, Director of the King's Center for Military Health Research, King's College London [19659004] It is republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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