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July 1976

About Alcoholism - Alcoholism Information, Research and Treatment

Armed Forces Inventory

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WASHINGTON, D.C.--Twenty percent of all Army officers and 32% of enlisted men are either heavy drinkers or binge drinkers who become intoxicated for more than one day at a time, Congressional auditors said.

In an 89-page report that viewed heavy drinking as a far more serious and widespread problem in the armed forces than narcotics, the General Accounting Office said that Army duty time lost to drinking [in one year] totaled 2,200 staff years at a cost of $17,000,000 in pay and allowances alone.

The Navy offered a "conservative" estimate of a $52,000,000 loss from absenteeism, decreased efficiency, and poor decision-making because of drinking.

"More than half of the nonsenior [Army] officers and more than half of all junior enlisted men believed it was all right to get drunk once in a while as long as it did not become a habit," the report said. "And 28% of the junior enlisted men believed it was all right to get drunk whenever one felt like it."

The GAO said that a recent Navy survey had found 37% of Navy enlisted men, 26% of male warrant officers, and 18% of male commissioned officers had drinking problems described as "critical," "very serious," or "serious"; 19% of the enlisted women and 9% of the women officers also had drinking habits in those categories.

Of the Army's 289 personnel deaths in Europe [in one year], the report said, 72, or about 25%, were related to alcohol.

"We found that hard liquor was sold freely at noon in base clubs, drinks were on sale at 25¢ each, special low prices on 'drink of the week' were provided, and free bottles of champagne were provided on birthdays," the report added.

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