Current drinking patterns in US veterans with a lifetime history of alcohol use disorder: Results from the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study

Elina A. Stefanovics, Belle Gavriel-Fried, Marc N. Potenza, Robert H. Pietrzak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Although more than 40% of US military veterans have lifetime histories of alcohol use disorder (AUD), little is known about the prevalence and correlates of current drinking patterns (i.e., abstinent, subthreshold, hazardous drinking) in this population. Objectives: To characterize the prevalence and key correlates of abstinence, subthreshold drinking, and hazardous drinking in a nationally representative sample of US veterans with lifetime AUD. Methods: Data from 1,282 veterans with lifetime AUD who participated in the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study were analyzed using analyses of variance, chi-square analyses, and multinomial regression models. Results: Of the 1,282 veterans with lifetime AUD (of which 94.7% were males), 674 (48.2%) were past-year subthreshold drinkers, 317 (28.0%) were abstinent and 291 (23.8%) were hazardous drinkers. Abstinent veterans were older, less educated, less socially engaged, and had higher levels of religiosity than subthreshold and hazardous drinkers. They were also more likely to smoke, screen positive for PTSD, reported greater somatic symptoms than subthreshold drinkers, and had more physical difficulties and lifetime trauma than hazardous drinkers. Subthreshold drinkers were more likely than hazardous drinkers to be female and report physical health problems and less likely to smoke and be depressed. Conclusion: More than three-quarters of US veterans with lifetime AUD are currently abstinent or subthreshold drinkers. Factors associated with abstinence included older age, health problems, religiosity and social engagement. Results suggest a “J-shaped” relationship between current drinking patterns and health and psychosocial factors in veterans, with subthreshold drinkers generally having better health than abstinent and hazardous drinkers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)784-794
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Volume46
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020

Keywords

  • US veterans
  • alcohol use disorder
  • drinking patterns

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