College Students With Military Experience Report Greater Alcohol-Related Consequences

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Abstract

This study examined associations among military experience, alcohol use, and alcohol-related consequences among a large national sample of 27,249 students pursuing postsecondary education. Because of the uniqueness of the developmental period of emerging adulthood, we stratified all analyses by age groups of 18–24 and 25 and older. There were no differences between students with and without military service history in terms of 3 indicators of alcohol use: alcohol consumption in the last 30 days, binge drinking in the last 2 weeks, and drinking and driving in the last 30 days. There were, however, several differences in self-reported consequences of drinking. Among individuals ages 18–24, students with military service history had nearly twofold increased odds of police encounters as a consequence of drinking (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.91, 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.02, 3.57]) and increased odds greater than twofold of experiencing nonconsensual sex (aOR = 2.68, 95% CI [1.17, 6.19]). Among both age groups, students with military service history reported greater odds of having unprotected sex as a consequence of drinking when compared to students without military service history. Research is needed to identify the reasons why alcohol use results in these particular negative consequences for students with military service history, which can inform prevention and intervention efforts.

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