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Variability in Veterans’ Alcohol Use by Place of Residence

Authors

  • Mark W. Vander Weg PhD,

    1. Iowa City VA Medical Center, Comprehensive Access & Delivery Research and Evaluation (CADRE) Center and VA Office of Rural Health (ORH) Veterans Rural Health Resource Center—Central Region, Iowa City, Iowa
    2. Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa
    3. Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
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  • Xueya Cai PhD

    1. Iowa City VA Medical Center, Comprehensive Access & Delivery Research and Evaluation (CADRE) Center and VA Office of Rural Health (ORH) Veterans Rural Health Resource Center—Central Region, Iowa City, Iowa
    2. Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa
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The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Office of Rural Health. Dr. Cai is now with the University of Rochester, Rochester, New York. Address correspondence to Dr. Vander Weg, Comprehensive Access & Delivery Research and Evaluation (CADRE) Center, Iowa City VA Medical Center, 601 Highway 6 West, Mail Stop 152, Iowa City, IA 52246. E-mail: mark-vanderweg@uiowa.edu.

Abstract

Rates of risky alcohol use appear to be elevated among active duty and veteran military personnel. Little is known, however, about characteristics associated with alcohol misuse in these groups. Furthermore, although there is evidence to suggest that patterns of alcohol use differ according to place of residence, no prior studies have investigated variability in alcohol use according to level of rurality and geographic region in US military veterans. The present study evaluated variations in alcohol use (ie, past 30-day use, heavy use, and binge drinking) and drinking and driving according to place of residence among 55,452 US military veterans participating in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Veterans residing in rural areas were significantly less likely than those from suburban and urban areas to have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days (p < .001). Conversely, rural-dwelling veterans who did drink alcohol had higher odds of binge drinking (p < .005) and (relative to urban residents) drinking and driving (p = .013). Veterans residing in the South were significantly less likely than those from other geographic regions to report past 30-day alcohol use (p < .001). In addition, veterans living in the Midwest were significantly more likely than those from the South to report drinking and driving (p = .017). No differences in heavy alcohol use were observed based on location of residence. (Am J Addict 2011;21:31–37)

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