03:42pm Friday 10 July 2020

Female veterans aged 20-39 less likely to use most harmful substances than male counterparts

According to a new spotlight by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), female veterans aged 20-39 are far less likely to engage in binge drinking or the use of substances such as cigarettes and illicit drugs than male veterans of the same age group. 

The differences were most pronounced in terms of binge drinking — drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion.  While 22.9 percent of female veterans reported binge drinking in the past month, 43.2 percent of male veterans in this age group had engaged in it within the same period. 

There was also a significant difference in the levels of substance abuse between female and male veterans age 20-39 regarding illicit drug use. While 13.1 percent of male veterans used illicit drugs in the past month only 9.6 percent of female veterans used drugs.

Similarly there was a significant difference in cigarette use levels. Past month cigarette use for males was 40.9 percent, while it was 33.4 percent for female veterans.

However, male and female levels of past month non medical use of prescription drugs such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, or sedatives was not much different — about 4 percent for male veterans and approximately 3.5 percent for female veterans

“The nation’s service women and men have sacrificed much for their country and the nation must do everything it can to provide comprehensive health care to meet their behavioral health needs and those of their families,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “Although this survey finds some striking differences in the levels of substance use among female and male veterans, it is important to remember that many female veterans may have other critical behavioral health care needs due to the unique conditions they may have experienced during their service. Thus it is essential that comprehensive behavioral health care services are provided to meet the challenges facing all veterans.” 

Female veterans aged 20-39 less likely to use most substances than male counterparts, was developed as part of the agency’s strategic initiative on data, outcomes, and quality – an effort to inform policy makers and service providers on the nature and scope of behavioral health issues.  It is drawn from SAMHSA’s 2009  National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The survey collects data by administering questionnaires to a representative sample of the population through face-to-face interviews at their places of residence.

A copy of the report is available at: http://oas.samhsa.gov/spotlight/FemaleVeterans.pdf


SAMHSA is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office
Telephone: 240-276-2130

Share on:

Health news