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Study: Drunk driving surging among U.S. veterans

North Carolina knows well how important military service is to the nation. Our state is home to some of the most prestigious and respected military installations anywhere, including Camp Lejeune, Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station and Fort Bragg.

A new study of drunk driving should be of concern to all us: it shows that impaired driving is on the rise among veterans. In the past five years, the number of vets who have been diagnosed as binge drinkers has increased from 14 percent to 16 percent, according to the American Addiction Centers. Drunk driving arrests among our veterans have also increased, researchers found.

Innumerable studies have shown the devastating impact of drunk drivers on society, costing the nation billions of dollars annually, but more importantly, thousands of lives (and tens of thousands of injuries) in DUI crashes.

The American Addiction Centers study was done with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a news source reported. Last year, the data showed that binge drinking among vets is most prevalent among those earning the most annually, including about 18 percent of those who earn more than $75,000 per year.

“While binge drinking among veterans was more common with servicemen than women, we found the rate of increase was higher among female veterans overall,” the researchers stated. “Compared to a less than 2 percentage point increase between 2013 and 2017, the rate of binge drinking among women rose from less than 11 percent to nearly 14 percent over the same five years.”

The increase in binge drinking has led to a surge in drunk driving incidents. Since 2014, the percentage of U.S. vets identified as driving drunk jumped from 1.6 percent to 2.5 percent. The recent research suggests that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the leading factor in veterans’ substance abuse.

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