Battling booze: A soldier's story


Soldier in Afghanistan
Image caption Many military personnel say they drink to block-out memories of Iraq and Afghanistan

UK troops are more likely to abuse alcohol if they have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to new research.

The study of 10,000 military staff, found they were 20% more likely to turn to drink than their colleagues who hadn't been to either war zone.

Newsbeat spoke to Colin (not his real name), a veteran of both conflicts.

Colin's story

I was in Iraq in 2005. We were in Warrior armoured fighting vehicles, transporting the infantry around Basra city centre.

It was relatively quiet. However, we did get mortar and rocket attacks at night.

When I came back from Iraq, it was a bit weird, but I was only 18, so I settled-in quite easily.


I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, as a sniper, and vehicle commander.

It was a lot different out there.

Things that people see, you can't put into words.

When I got back, my mum and dad noticed straight away that I was a bit quiet, and a bit snappy when they asked me what I was doing.

Drinking to forget

It was a bit weird when we all got back from Afghanistan.

We began to remember what we had seen, realising things that had happened to us, and what could have happened.

That turned into going out, getting drunk, and having a laugh.

I would forget everything that happened

Then I woke-up in the morning and it was there again, straight in my mind.

I would think about it all day, then at night a mate would ask if I fancied a pint.

A pint would turn to 10, and I would forget about it.

This was going on for about two or three months, day after day.

Breaking the habit

I'm not saying I had a drink problem. I definitely didn't.

Like every 24-year-old lad, I enjoy a drink at the weekend with my mates.

I still think about what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Now I just enjoy a drink, think about it, bit it's all in the past.

I was due to deploy again this year.

For me, personally, I didn't want to make that choice of going out there again.

I have served my country twice. I have been seven-and-a-half long years in the army.

For me, that was enough.

Supporting the troops

Certain people do need guidance and help.

From the regiment I served in, everything was in place for anyone that went that way, whatever it was - drugs, drink, mad rampages.

The odd one or two gets through the net, but they soon get caught

Other regiments could be different, I can't speak for them.

Now I am out of the army, life seems to be rolling a lot better.

I know what I am doing, I know when I am doing it.

You don't have that in the army.