Alcohol Abuse: Why some veterans are suffering in silence

Author: Dr Paula Holt MBE, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the College of Health, Psychology, and Social care

This post was originally published by the Derby University Blog on 18 November 2020.


We have re-issued the article that has already been published by the Derby University Blog. We would like to express gratitude to the kind offer of the editorial board of the Derby University Blog.

Dr Paula Holt MBE, is the Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC) Dean of the College of Health, Psychology and Social Care, which comprises of two schools - the School of Nursing and Professional Practice and the School of Allied Health and Social Care.

After their service, ex-forces’ personnel return to civilian life. While most transition and thrive in their new lifestyle and career, some find the adjustment more difficult. Here, Dr Paula Holt MBE, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Health, Psychology and Social Care at the University of Derby and ex-British Army officer, discusses why a growing number of veterans are coming forward to deal with alcohol misuse after many years of struggling to ask for the help they need.

After eight years’ service in the Army, I moved back into civilian life and can fully appreciate how challenging this transition can be. For me it was relatively straight-forward. I had just had a baby and managed to get a job in the NHS fairly easily. For many though, leaving the Armed Forces is not just a change of job, it’s a complete change of lifestyle.

In the Armed Forces you know what you are likely to be wearing each day, where you will sleep, where you will eat, who your colleagues are and what progression looks like. For a role that has uncertainty in terms of potential for deployment and finding oneself in situations that are unpredictable, being in the military can feel very secure.

For many, leaving the services means finding new work and a place to live, while at the same time adjusting to civilian life. Add in simple things like registering with a GP, adjusting to loss of banter with your ‘muckers’, learning to cook if you have never had to, or developing a new routine, and there is an extra dimension of adjustment. For veterans who have seen active service and may still be struggling with coming to terms with what they have experienced, these seemingly ‘normal’ activities of adjustment can feel insurmountable.