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Monday, May 17, 2010

British Soldiers PTSD and Alcohol Abuse


War is a life changing experience for all who serve in the armed forces; every soldier is faced with varying forms of trials and trauma. Just like each person's experience is different, the way each service person responds to the stress varies as well. Our own history has shown us that people who come back from conflicts around the world are more likely to have endured more pain in their mind and spirit than physically. Soldiers have often found comfort in a bottle of alcohol to ease their troubled minds - to the point of misuse and even abuse. Post-traumatic stress is a major contributing factor towards the progression of alcoholism; drinking to fill a void only creates a larger chasm, one much harder to fill. Veterans of the Great War, Korea, and Vietnam suffered from PTSD; now, those returning from the Middle East are showing the same signs and not just American soldiers.

Reuters recently reported that British troops suffering from PTSD have been abusing alcohol to cope with anxiety and depression. "Researchers from King's College London found that PTSD rates among U.K. troops are relatively stable, quelling fears of an epidemic of combat stress problems similar to that experienced by U.S. troops. However, rates of alcohol abuse, anxiety and depression were elevated among British soldiers, according to study leader Simon Wesserly". The study found that 13 percent of British soldiers, as a whole (veterans and non-), were misusing alcohol, which is not that much in the scheme of things. When compared to the percentage of soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan the number more than doubles. 36 percent of British troops were misusing (abusing) alcohol on a regular basis:

  • About 4 percent of troops suffered from PTSD
  • 20 percent suffered from less severe mental disorders, i.e. Anxiety

Overall, there are more cases of U.S. soldiers with PTSD than British and there are a couple reasons that could account for that. British troops serve six-month tours, no more than 12 months in every 36. In the U.S., depending, American troops might serve more than 12 months at a time with only a year between deployments. It is easy to see how the extended time might have an effect on one's mind. PTSD is a major problem and a leading factor in addiction and suicide rates, long bouts of treatment are usually necessary to learn how to cope with the debilitating effects of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder; if addiction has already taken hold when treatment begins the recovery process can be very difficult.

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