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Drug And Alcohol Rehabs For Military in the United States

Drug and alcohol addiction is very recognized among the civilian population throughout the United States; however, it can sometimes be overlooked when it comes to military personnel and veterans. Drug and alcohol addiction has always been there within the military, and for many years it was never talked about or really addressed properly. There was a long-lasting stigma attached to being an addict or alcoholic in the military, and so many members of the military would not come forward to address the problem, or admit that there was a problem.

In today’s military things are much more open, and more attention is being placed on the problems that plague active-duty service members and veterans. The care and well-being of military personnel have always been a top priority, along with providing on-going assistance for its veterans, but some things were never really talked about or properly addressed. The military has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to illicit drug use, and there are always random and frequent drug tests; this combined with a lingering stigma can make it difficult to identify illicit drug abuse problems. Many military personnel are also still deterred from seeking help because of lack of confidentiality, for fear of everything getting out into the open, granted today there is help available and many resources there to assist.

Substance Abuse Among Active Duty Military

Active duty and retired members of the United States Military are at risk of developing substance abuse disorders. The most commonly abused substances among military members are alcohol and prescription drugs. Being deployed into a war zone is often associated with unhealthy drinking, drug use, and risky behavior. However, illicit drug use among military personnel is relatively low, and the misuse of prescription drugs has decreased over the years. In contrast, the rates of binge Definition of the word binge drinking and heavy alcohol use are much higher when compared to the civilian population. It is estimated that roughly one in ten veterans have been diagnosed with a substance abuse problem. The prevalence of substance abuse among male veterans aged 18 to 25 was higher when compared to civilians.

The rates of illicit drug use among active service members have decreased per the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The 2015 Health Related Behaviors Survey showed that illegal drug use was reported by less than 1% across all service branches and among enlisted personnel and officers. However, the reports of illicit drug use increase when active-duty personnel leaves the military. For example, marijuana accounts for the vast majority of illegal drug use among veterans. Roughly 3.5% report using marijuana, and 1.7% report using illicit drugs other than marijuana.

There are many stresses that come with being in the military, especially during wartime; according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, military personnel with multiple deployments and extensive combat exposure pose a greater risk of developing a substance abuse problem. There are also greater risks for binge drinking and prescription medication abuse, which may have been prescribed for some physical or mental ailment, and along with risks of abusing other drugs. According to a 2008 Department of Defense survey, which looked at health-related behaviors among active-duty military personnel, only 2.3 percent of service members were past month users of illicit drugs, where as with civilians it was over 10 percent. The zero-tolerance policy is most likely one of the reasons why this has remained at such a low level, when the policy was instituted in the 1980’s. The recurring problem among military personnel is the prescription drug abuse, which is higher among service members then civilians. In the 2008 survey, over 10 percent of military personnel reported abusing prescription drugs, with the vast majority of these drugs being pain medications. These medications are always available due to combat related injuries and other physical ailments, and when these medications are not taken as prescribed the risk of addiction is high. One of the other recurring issues is binge drinking, and in that 2008 survey it was reported that over 45 percent of active-duty service members reported to engaging in binge drinking. One of the most unfortunate things is many suicides of military personnel, and active-duty service members can be attributed to alcohol and drug abuse.

These problems are continually being addressed, and many improvements have been made in providing services and help for military personnel and veterans. In a 2012 report generated by the Institute of Medicine, which was prepared for the Department of Defense, there were numerous recommendations made for addressing this problem. These included increasing the access to treatment and rehabilitation, increasing the prevention and treatment interventions, and expanding the insurance coverage to include effective and useful treatment methods. For example, the Army has made changes in which they have limited the use of prescription opiates to only six months and has the pharmacist monitor a soldier’s medication when they are being prescribed multiple prescriptions. The most important thing out of all of this is that help is found, and an active-duty service member or veteran checks themselves into an effective drug and alcohol treatment program. Programs exist throughout the United States, both private and government funded, which are equipped to help treat military personnel and veterans. Many residential programs can be found along with many effective outpatient programs, which are both short and long term. Counseling and therapy services are provided to help military personnel cope with the on-going stresses of being in the military. Family support programs are also available to members of the family, so they are better equipped in dealing with these problems; for example, through the Army Substance Abuse Program. Veterans and injured war veterans are being provided the right kind of help and care, they deserve through the private sector and the government sector. These men and woman sacrifice a great deal in the service of their country and need to know the right help is available to them in their time of need. A drug and or alcohol addiction, when addressed and treated properly can be eliminated and a person can move on with a healthy and successful life. These addictions do not need to plague military personnel and veterans for their entire life. The right help is available, and it can be successful.


marcel gemme author

Marcel Gemme

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Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people.