Does Alcohol Misuse Differ by Veteran and Gender Status for Young and Middle-aged Adults in the General Population?

Purpose: Historically, alcohol misuse has been a problem among veterans. The purpose of this study was to determine whether alcohol misuse differs by veteran and gender status for young adults and middle-aged adults in the general population.

Methods: This cross-sectional study used data from the 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRGFSS) for young adults ages 25 to 44 (N=5189) and for middleaged adults ages 45 to 64 (N=10529) in Alaska, Arizona, Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Ordered logistic regression with combined state data by age group was used to assess whether alcohol misuse differs by veteran and gender status when controlling for health-related and demographic factors.

Results: Less than one-fourth of participants reported excessive alcohol use (22% in young adults and 23% in middle-aged adults) and fewer reported veteran status (12% and 9% respectively). In both age groups, veteran males and non-veteran males were more likely to report each successive level of alcohol use when compared to nonveteran females. Alcohol use was also significantly related to tobacco use, physical health, and mental health in both age groups.

Conclusion: The results indicate that alcohol use in young and middle-aged adults was related to male gender, tobacco use, physical health, and mental health, and patterns did not differ for age groups. For adults ages 25 to 64 in a primary care setting, providers should continue to screen for alcohol and tobacco use in all adults, especially males, regardless of veteran status and age. Providers should educate patients on the risks of substance use and provide resources for smoking cessation and referrals to substance abuse programs as needed. In addition, because alcohol use is related to physical health and mental health status, providers should screen for all if patients present with any and treat as comorbid conditions.


Boulom A, Siegel J, Diver T, Hartos JL, Ashworth KM and Burns JM

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