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Study: Vets more likely to seek help for alcohol problems than civilians

WASHINGTON -- Researchers have known for years that veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or other chronic battlefield injuries are more likely than other vets to abuse alcohol in an effort to manage their health issues. But a new study released this weekend notes that male veterans abusing alcohol are more likely to seek help for their problem than civilians, leading to better results in the long run.

According to research from the Public Health Institute’s Alcohol Research Group, 29 percent of veterans under 50 with a history of heavy alcohol use sought treatment for their problem, compared with just 17 percent of their civilian counterparts.

Investigators said it's a significant difference. The research also found that younger vets who sought treatment reported better overall health and less depression than veterans who did not.

In a statement, Dr. Katherine Karriker-Jaffe, researcher at the Public Health Institute, said that the findings suggest “not only that (Department of 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."

The research was presented at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting in San Francisco.

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