Drug Use Among Military Men and Women: A Longitudinal Fixed Effects Approach
Merklinghaus, Carter Ashleigh
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Very little research has been conducted on the effects of military service on drug use. Of the studies that do exist, few conduct analyses to include comparisons of active duty enlistees, veterans, and civilians. In addition, the effects of combat status and gender are often overlooked. Using data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth I analyze patterns of drug use across current enlistees in the military, veterans, and civilians, and determine whether differences exist according to gender and combat status. Overall I find that enlisted members of the military are less likely to use drugs than their civilian counterparts, but this pattern does not occur for veterans. Subsequently I find that these relationships do not differ by gender or combat status. I do find, however, that despite there being no decrease in drug use after exiting the service, there is no increase in drug use either, even after controlling for combat status. This is important for helping us better understand the military’s effects on the life-course outcomes of our nation’s young people, as well as furthering our understanding of the military as a near total institution. Additionally, the results of this study could be useful to policy-makers who seek to better understand the effects of military service in order to more accurately address how to provide help and resources to our nation’s veterans.
- Sociology