Negative Emotions Regarding Never Deploying Are Related to Alcohol Misuse among Male, But Not Female, Reserve and Guard Soldiers

Newswise — Research shows that many soldiers who have never been deployed experience negative emotions such as feelings of guilt and decreased value, connectedness, andcamaraderie within their unit. Additional research shows that US Army Reserve/National Guard (USAR/NG) soldiers are athigh risk for alcohol misuse. This study examined whether emotions related to non-deployment among USAR/NG soldiers contributed to an increased risk of alcohol misuse.

Researchers used a subset of data from Operation: SAFETY (Soldiers And Families Excelling Through theYears), an ongoing study of USAR/NG soldiers funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.  This study examined at 174 never-deployed soldiers (N = 121 males, 53 females). Their analysis examined the relationship between non-deployment emotions, measured by the Non-Deployment Emotions Questionnaire, and a range of alcohol-use outcomes, measured by theAlcohol Use Disorders Identification Test and standard quantity and frequency questions.

Results showed that a greater degree of non-deployment emotions – such as guilt, less value, less camaraderie, and less connectedness within their unit– were associated withgreater frequency and amount of alcohol drinking among never-deployed USAR/NG soldiers. Only male soldiers experienced a greater likelihood of alcohol problems when they had highly negative non-deployment emotions. There was no relationbetween non-deployment emotions and alcohol problems among female soldiers. The paper’s authors also noted that while never-deployed soldiers may be at as high risk for alcohol misuse as their deployed counterparts, they areless likely to be targeted for screening and intervention.