Excessive alcohol use is a leading lifestyle-related cause of death, attributable to approximately 88,000 deaths per year in the United States (U.S.)[ Reference 1 ]. The financial costs of excessive drinking are a significant impact to the American economy, estimated to cost the U.S. $249 billion in 2010. Most of that figure ($191 billion) was accounted for by binge drinking (five or more drinks per occasion for men; four or more drinks per occasion for women).[ Reference 2 ]
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, slightly more than half of Americans age 12 or older reported being current drinkers of alcohol with almost 38 percent of 18 to 25 year olds binging on alcohol in the last 30 days (binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least one day in the 30 days prior to the survey).
In the military, alcohol misuse can impact mission readiness and productivity, in addition to service members’ physical and mental health. The Department of Defense (DoD) regularly tracks alcohol use in the military. Findings from the 2011 Department of Defense Health Related Behaviors Survey of Active Duty Military Personnel (HRB), indicated that among current alcohol drinkers, approximately 40 percent of active-duty service members reported binge drinking in the past 30 days, with the Marine Corps reporting the highest rate of binge drinking (56.7 percent) and the Air Force reporting the lowest rate (28.1 percent). Findings indicate that 11.3 percent of active-duty personnel were classified as problem drinkers (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) score ≥ 8).