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Soldiers who kill less likely to drink, study finds

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A recent study conducted by researchers from American University's Kogod School of Business and Walter Reed Army Institute suggests that soldiers who kill in combat are less likely to abuse alcohol than those who do not. Russell, one of the researchers, said:

"We were very surprised by the findings. Most previous research supported the prediction that more traumatic experiences would lead to more negative health outcomes, such as alcohol abuse...We found the opposite -- that the most traumatic experiences of killing in combat actually led to a decrease in alcohol abuse post-deployment."

But what could account for such a correlation? The researchers suggest that a possible explanation is that soldiers who kill others develop a more highly sensitive sense of mortality that increases their tendency towards self-preservation. This, they believe, leads them to drink less because of health concerns.

For the study, Russell and her fellow researchers surveyed 1,397 members of an Army National Guard Infantry Brigade Combat Team three months before and three months after their deployment to Iraq in 2005-2006. 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.

Aside from the stunning revelation that soldiers who kill in combat are less likely to abuse alcohol post-deployment, 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 (American University, 2014)

American University. (2014, June 10). Soldiers who kill in combat less likely to abuse alcohol, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 11, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140610122010.htm

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