New research published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence has found that the experience of killing in combat is in fact linked to less alcohol dependence, not more, contrary to certain stereotypes. The study involving 1,397 National Guard members deployed to Iraq looked at both before and after-deployment rates of alcohol intake to arrive at the counterintuitive results, PsyPost reports:
Cristel Russell, an associate professor of marketing with American University's Kogod School of Business, and researchers with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research found that the most traumatic of all combat experiences, killing, is less likely to lead to alcohol abuse.
Members of the unit completed anonymous surveys regarding behavioral health and alcohol use and, in the post-survey, the combat experiences they had during deployment.
"We were very surprised by the findings," stated Russell. "Most previous research supported the prediction that more traumatic experiences would lead to more negative health outcomes, such as alcohol abuse."
Russell and her team believe that "mortality salience" is responsible for reining in excess alcohol consumption among those who've killed in combat.
"We reason that a possible explanation may be that soldiers who experience killing during combat become more aware of their own vulnerability to death," she states. "Our future research is going to try and explore this intriguing explanation further."
Popular notions about military experience and alcoholism aren't wholly off the mark, however. The research found that among National Guard members who didn't kill while deployed, alcohol use indeed increased upon returning home.
Survey results revealed that the prevalence of alcohol use increased from 70.8% pre-deployment to 80.5% post-deployment and that alcohol misuse more than doubled, increasing from 8.51% before deployment to 19.15% after deployment.Via PsyPost.