A new study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says that female military spouses are both more likely to binge drink, more likely to suffer mental illness, more likely to abuse psychotherapeutic drugs, but less likely to use marijuana.
According to to the report, binge drinking for females is “having four or more drinks per sitting.”
The study “showed that 31.5 percent of military wives ages 18 to 49 reported binge drinking within the past 30 days, compared with 22.7 percent of the general population,” according to this story. And according to this one, 7.8 percent of military wives abused psychotherapeutic drugs, compared 5.9 percent of civilian spouses.
A few important things to note about this study. The first is that this only included military wives — not male spouses. That’s because, according to the researchers, the sample of male military spouses who participated in the overall study, which examined a cross-section of the U.S. not just military spouses, was too small.
The second, and perhaps most important thing, is that the sample size of female military spouses was less than 300 people. So, that means, in a study of less than 300 military wives, those who responded were more likely to binge drink than those who responded to the survey who were not military wives.
Important caveat, huh?
Since the report became public I have seen a variety of responses from “no surprise there” to “how can they make this statement based on only 300 people?” Others are upset that yet another study is casting military spouses in a bad light — as desperate, hurting and, in this case, potential alcoholics.
I get it. Many studies really do make us look like we are having an abnormally hard time, when we instead tend to think of ourselves as being extra resilient and hardy.
That’s why I want to have our own (highly non-scientific) survey. Do you think military spouses binge drink and abuse drugs at a higher rate than the civilian population? Answer based on what you know about yourself and what you believe about your friends and neighbors. We’ll take a look at the results in a few weeks.