Brief interventions to reduce harmful alcohol use among military personnel: lessons learned from the civilian experience

Mil Med. 2006 Jun;171(6):538-43. doi: 10.7205/milmed.171.6.538.


Unhealthy alcohol use is among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Among military personnel, service members between the ages 18 and 25 had a 27.3% prevalence of heavy drinking in the previous 30 days, compared to 15.3% among civilians in the same age group. In the civilian world, > 100 million patients are treated in U.S. emergency departments (ED) annually; 7.9% of these visits are alcohol related. Alcohol is associated with a broad range of health consequences that may ultimately present in the ED setting: traumatic injuries (e.g., motor vehicle crashes, intentional violence, falls); environmental injuries (e.g., frostbite); cardiovascular problems (e.g., hypertension, dilated cardiomyopathy); gastrointestinal disorders (e.g., hepatitis, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal bleeding); neurological problems (e.g., encephalopathy, alcohol withdrawal, withdrawal seizures), as well as psychological problems (e.g., depression, suicide). Seminal work has been done to create behavioral interventions for at-risk drinkers. These motivational interventions have been found to be successful in encouraging clients to change their risky behaviors. We present such a technique, called the Brief Negotiated Interview as performed in a civilian ED setting, in hopes of adapting it for use in the military context. Military health care providers could easily adapt this technique to help reduce risky levels of alcohol consumption among service members, retirees, or military dependents.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / epidemiology
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / prevention & control*
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control*
  • Algorithms
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Military Psychiatry / methods*
  • Motivation
  • Organizational Culture
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking*
  • United States / epidemiology