17 May 2017

Veterans need earlier addiction support

Recent research by Combat Stress, the UK’s leading mental health charity for veterans, has found that former servicemen and servicewomen are struggling with alcohol addition until later in life.

Rather than seeking help, veterans with alcohol addiction are putting off seeking help until their sixties, and are more likely to be admitted to hospital for physical health problems.

Combat Stress is calling for more to be done to both help veterans recognise the problems and in supporting them through their issues.

The study was carried out in collaboration with Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHT) and the King’s Centre for Military Health Research. It looked at differences in alcohol misuse between veterans and the general public admitted to the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth over an eighteen-month period.

On average, the study found that veterans were aged in their sixties when referred for support with alcohol difficulties, and were also admitted to hospital for longer periods of time compared to non-veterans.

Combat Stress’ Chief Executive Sue Freeth said: “As many as 43% of veterans registered with Combat Stress have a current problem with alcohol misuse.

“From the conversations we have had with veterans being supported by Combat Stress, we’re all too aware that many of the veterans use alcohol or drugs to help them to manage their trauma and emotional health.

“This study shows that more support is needed to increase awareness among veterans of the dangers of drinking harmful levels of alcohol, to help them recognise they need help, and to assist them in engaging with specialist services sooner to access effective treatments so they can make a lasting recovery.”

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.


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