University at Buffalo Receives $2.3 Million Grant to Study Reservists’ Substance Abuse

Greg Homish, Assistant Professor, Department of Community Health and Health Behavior

Published June 21, 2013

The University at Buffalo SUNY School of Public Health and Health Professions awarded a $2.3 million grant by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to study the social and environmental influences – stress, trauma, and partner and peer substance abuse – on reserve soldiers’ substance use and marital aggression over time. Dr. Gregory G. Homish, assistant professor in the department of community health and health behavior, is the primary investigator on the study, which runs from June 2013 to February 2018.

According to Dr. Homish, the current study will be in contrast to traditional research on this subject. He describes the study’s subject matter and design as “innovative” in three ways. “First, because it specifically focuses on reserve soldiers, who are an understudied population that often shoulders a greater burden of substance use than others in the military; second, because we will apply a ‘social ecological model’ to the reservists in the study to examine changes in substance use over a designated duration of time; and third, because it will focus on partner and peer influence in adult substance use,” he says.

Dr. Homish explains that while individual, partner, and peer influences have been studied among adolescents, college students, and young adults, it is rare to see social environment factored into the studies of adult substance use. Social environment may prove to be extremely important to reservists upon returning home. “Researchers have speculated that difficulties transitioning back into civilian and family life may be responsible for the increased risk observed in reserve soldiers relative to active duty soldiers. Among these difficulties is trying to handle the absence of support from other soldiers.”