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Substance Use Among Military-Connected Youth

The California Healthy Kids Survey

      Background

      Young people in military-connected families may be exposed to deleterious stressors, related to family member deployment, that have been associated with externalizing behaviors such as substance use. Substance use predisposes youth to myriad health and social problems across the life span.

      Purpose

      This study examined the prevalence and correlates of lifetime and recent substance use in a normative sample of youth who were either connected or not connected to the military.

      Methods

      Data are from a subsample of the 2011 California Healthy Kids Survey (N=14,149). Items in the present analyses included present familial military affiliation (no one, parent, sibling); number of deployments (none, one, two or more); gender; grade; and race/ethnicity. Substance use items assessed whether the youth reported lifetime use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, other drugs, or prescription drugs; and recent (past 30 days) use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and other drugs.

      Results

      Multivariate analysis conducted in 2012 revealed that an increase in the number of deployments was associated with a higher likelihood of lifetime and recent use, with the exception of lifetime smoking.

      Conclusions

      These results indicate that experiences associated with deployment of a family member may increase the likelihood of substance use.
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