Posted by Steps to Recovery on April 2, 2013
Data from a statewide survey of students in Iowa shows alarming information: The risk for substance abuse is higher in military kids, especially those with a parent who is currently deployed or recently returned.
In 2010, almost 2 million American children had at least one parent in active military duty. A new University of Iowa study suggests that deployment of a parent puts these children at an increased risk for substance abuse.
Using data from a statewide survey of sixth, eighth, and 11th-grade students in Iowa, the researchers found an increase in 30-day alcohol use, binge drinking, using marijuana and other illegal drugs, and misusing prescription drugs among children of deployed or recently returned military parents compared to children in nonmilitary families. The increased risk was consistent across all age groups. The findings are published online in the journal Addiction.
“We worry a lot about the service men and women and we sometimes forget that they are not the only ones put into harm’s way by deployment — their families are affected, too,” says Stephan Arndt, Ph.D., UI professor of psychiatry in bio statistics and senior study author. “Our findings suggest we need to provide these families with more community support.”
Arndt and colleagues at the Iowa Consortium for Substance Abuse Research and Evaluation and the UI Injury Prevention Research Center, examined data from the 2010 Iowa Youth Survey (IYS) to investigate whether military deployment of a parent was associated with children’s substance use.
The survey, developed by the consortium in 1999, is administered by the state and conducted every two years. Participating students answer questions online about attitudes and experiences with alcohol, drugs, and violence, as well as students’ perceptions of their peers, family, school, and community. Of all sixth-, eighth-, and 11th-grade students enrolled in Iowa schools in 2010, 69 percent (78,240 students) completed the IYS.
Students were also asked if they had a parent in the military and about the parent’s deployment status. The researchers focused their analysis on the 59,395 responses that indicated a parent in the military, either deployed (775, 1.3 percent) or recently returned (983, 1.7 percent), or not in the military (57,637, 97 percent).
“Looking at the Iowa Youth Survey, we discovered we were right in regard to our idea that parental deployment would increase the risk for substance abuse behaviors in children. In fact, the numbers suggested we were a lot more right than we wanted to be,” Arndt says.
“For example, sixth-graders in nonmilitary families had binge drinking rates of about 2 percent. That jumps up to about 7 percent for the children of deployed or recently returned parents — a three-to-four-fold increase in the raw percentage.”
The study showed that rates for drinking alcohol in the past 30 days were 7 to 9 percentage points higher for children of deployed or recently returned parents across all grades, while rates for binge drinking (having had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row) were 5 to 8 percentage points higher for children of deployed parents across all grades. Marijuana use was also higher in children of deployed parents, but the difference in risk was larger for older students; for sixth-grade students the risk difference was almost 2 percentage points, for 11th-grade students it was almost 5 percentage points higher.
For the rest of the article click here: https://medicine.uiowa.edu/psychiatry/content/children-deployed-military-parents-more-risk-alcohol-drug-use
If you are a military family, make sure to talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol and the dangers of substance abuse. Offer a safe place to talk and gentle support. Make sure your expectations are clearly understood. With research indicating that substance abuse is higher in military kids, it is vital to support and educate these young people.
How do you talk to your kids about substance abuse?