On the front line: Alcohol and the armed forces

English | Cymraeg

23 July 2012

Note: This report was written and/or funded by our predecessor organisation Alcohol Concern.


Various commentators have noted the drinking traditions of Britain’s armed forces, often romanticising practices such as the Royal Navy’s daily rum ration, ended in 1970. As early as 1850, the Admiralty found that alcohol was linked to disciplinary problems amongst sailors, and in recent decades all the armed services have taken alcohol misuse more seriously as a disciplinary, health and performance issue. Concerns remain, however, that heavy drinking is too ingrained in armed forces culture; that the forces themselves are not doing enough to tackle this; and that alcohol misuse problems may only come to light once a soldier, sailor or airman has re-entered civilian life.

This briefing paper looks at the evidence about drinking within the UK’s armed forces, what is being done to address alcohol-related problems, and what more could be done.