A new JAMA study says that reservists returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are at increased risk of heavy drinking and binge drinking.
The study found, for reservists who had combat exposures:
Rate of new-onset heavy weekly drinking: 8.8%
Rate of new-onset binge drinking: 25.6%
Rate of new-onset alcohol-related problems: 7.1%
New onset rates for active-duty personnel were 6.0%, 26.6%, and 4.8 percent, respectively.
It's quite possible these soldiers are using alcohol to cope with PTSD or other mental illness, the authors said, as there is a well-established link between the two. We'll discuss what internists can do to spot and treat soldiers with PTSD in the upcoming September cover story of ACP Internist.
Till then, do any of our readers want to share their stories of treating vets from the current war? Have you had many vets as patients? What have been the challenges, and how have you dealt with them?