Examining the association between binge drinking and propensity to join the military. Academic Article uri icon


  • It is unclear to what degree previous and/or current alcohol consumption predicts enlistment into the military. The current investigation explored the extent to which binge drinking was related to propensity to join the military among a national sample of high school seniors (n = 14,577) responding to the 2008 Monitoring the Future survey. Independent sample t-tests and logistic regression analyses were employed to explore the research question. Results indicated that twelfth grade students who intended to join the military after graduating from high school binge drank a significantly greater number of days (p < 0.001, Cohen's d = -0.22) than those not intending to enlist. Even after controlling for various sociodemographic and lifetime drinking characteristics, binge drinkers had a higher propensity to join the military (odds ratio = 1.079, Wald = 5.53, df = 1, p < 0.05) than those who did not binge. Moreover, as binge drinking increased, so did one's propensity to join the military. Our findings lend credence to the notion that high school binge drinkers may be self-selecting into military service. These findings underscore the importance of adequately assessing the frequency of high-risk alcohol consumption and their associated correlates among potential military recruits before accession.

published proceedings

  • Mil Med

altmetric score

  • 2.1

author list (cited authors)

  • Barry, A. E., Stellefson, M. L., Hanik, B., Tennant, B. L., Whiteman, S. D., Varnes, J., & Wadsworth, S. M.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Barry, Adam E||Stellefson, Michael L||Hanik, Bruce||Tennant, Bethany L||Whiteman, Shawn D||Varnes, Julia||Wadsworth, Shelley M

publication date

  • January 2013