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Male veterans with a history of heavy alcohol use are more likely than civilians to seek treatment. They are also more likely to report better overall health, and to be less depressed, according to a study presented at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting.

The study found 29 percent of veterans under the age of 50 with a long history of heavy alcohol use sought treatment, compared with 17 percent of civilians. Among younger men who drank heavily into their 30s, the study found 15 percent of veterans reported being depressed, compared with 35 percent of civilians, Newswise reports.

“The findings suggest not only that Veterans Affairs treatment is available to help young veterans who have a history of heavy drinking, but that it is an effective service outreach to young veterans that can improve their health and overall quality of life,” said researcher Katherine Karriker-Jaffe, PhD. “Those younger veterans without alcohol or drug problems may benefit from additional outreach from targeted services to improve their mental and physical health.”

The study defined heavy drinking as having five or more drinks at a time, at least once a week. The researchers note that studies show increased substance use disorders among veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, compared with non-deployed service members.

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