Alcohol problems in the Armed Forces

I seem to be following a bit of a theme here.  Crime and booze, politicians and booze and now armed forces and booze.  They call it an ‘equal opportunity’ addiction ….

This article was in the Independent in the last few weeks:

Record levels of alcohol abuse in Britain’s armed forces have led to more than 1,600 service personnel – the equivalent of several infantry battalions – requiring medical treatment in the past year.

New figures obtained from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) under Freedom of Information laws show that the number of service personnel falling victim to alcohol abuse is at its highest since incidents first began to be collected centrally by the Defence Medical Information Capability Programme in 2007.

Heart problems, alcohol poisoning, liver disease and alcoholic psychosis are among the conditions which the system records. And the numbers needing medical help for drink-related problems soared by 28 per cent between 2012 and 2013.

But the official figures do not reflect the true scale of the problem: “The numbers presented for UK armed forces personnel with psychoactive substance abuse for alcohol should be regarded as a minimum,” the MoD said.

More than 4,000 service personnel have been “disciplined for being intoxicated” since 2009, most of whom will have been on duty at the time, according to defence officials.

Drink is a far bigger problem in the Army than drugs, admitted General Lord Dannatt, a former chief of general staff: “Abuse of alcohol has long been a chronic problem in the Army – more so than misuse of drugs which is dealt with very severely.

Defence minister Anna Soubry has pledged to take action against a culture of “drinking to the point of oblivion” in the armed forces. The commitment was made during an evidence session before the Defence Select Committee two weeks ago, in which MPs called for an end to subsidised drinks in military bars.

I’m not meaning to pick on the military.  They have a difficult stressful job to do and I could not do it.  The article closes with a more accurate reflection of what it is about:

And Eric Appleby, the chief executive of Alcohol Concern, commented: “It’s not surprising that the armed forces struggle to identify and deal with alcohol misuse – it’s a reflection of wider society and the difficult, complex and all too often destructive relationship we have with alcohol.”

97 days to go

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