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Williams EC, Frasco MA, Jacobson IG, Maynard C, Littman AJ, Seelig AD, Crum-Cianflone NF, Nagel A, Boyko EJ. Risk factors for relapse to problem drinking among current and former US military personnel: a prospective study of the Millennium Cohort. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2015 Mar 1; 148:93-101.
BACKGROUND: Military service members may be prone to relapse to problem drinking after remission, given a culture of alcohol use as a coping mechanism for stressful or traumatic events associated with military duties or exposures. However, the prevalence and correlates of relapse are unknown. We sought to identify socio-demographic, military, behavioral, and health characteristics associated with relapse among current and former military members with remittent problem drinking. METHODS: Participants in the longitudinal Millennium Cohort Study who reported problem drinking at baseline (2001-2003) and were remittent at first follow-up (2004-2006) were included (n = 6909). Logistic regression models identified demographic, military service, behavioral, and health characteristics that predicted relapse (report of = 1 past-year alcohol-related problem on the validated Patient Health Questionnaire) at the second follow-up (2007-2008). RESULTS: Sixteen percent of those with remittent problem drinking relapsed. Reserve/National Guard members compared with active-duty members (odds ratio [OR] = 1.71, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.45-2.01), members separated from the military during follow-up (OR = 1.46, 95% CI: 1.16-1.83), and deployers who reported combat exposure (OR = 1.32, 95% CI: 1.07-1.62, relative to non-deployers) were significantly more likely to relapse. Those with multiple deployments were significantly less likely to relapse (OR = 0.73, 95% CI: 0.58-0.92). Behavioral factors and mental health conditions also predicted relapse. CONCLUSION: Relapse was common and associated with military and non-military factors. Targeted intervention to prevent relapse may be indicated for military personnel in particular subgroups, such as Reservists, veterans, and those who deploy with combat exposure.