Substance Abuse Treatment for the Military
Men and women in our nation’s military have much different stressors and lifestyles than ordinary citizens. Wartime deployment and combat put individuals in our armed forces at greater risk of developing unhealthy coping habits, such as alcohol and drugs.
In addition, the military has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs. While this means that only 2.3 percent use illicit drugs, it also means that most who are struggling with drug abuse don’t get the treatment they need. They’re too afraid they’ll lose their jobs. These policies also don’t cover legal substances that military personnel might use to deal with stress, such as alcohol or prescription pain relievers. In one study, more than half of the military members interviewed admitted to partaking in binge-drinking episodes, especially when faced with stressful situation like combat and war.
How Did Drug Addiction in the Military Begin?
Drug addiction in the military began long ago during the civil war. During this time, the syringe and morphine were first invented. Not knowing how addictive this opioid could be, doctors injected it often, especially to those on the front line. For decades after the war ended, civil war soldiers struggled with their addictions
Other wars resulted in easy access to addictive substances. During World War I, it was nicotine and caffeine. In World War II, soldiers celebrated the end of prohibition with alcohol. It was readily available on bases and even provided with their rations. Also during this war came the rise of methamphetamine. Giving the tank drivers and pilots the addictive substance helped them stay awake and focused.
Later, during the Vietnam War, soldiers turned to marijuana to help them deal with the war. When the government cracked down on the drug, the soldiers switched to cigarettes laced with heroin. One-fifth of the soldiers returning home from Vietnam had a heroin addiction.
Substance Abuse in Today’s Military
Drug use in the military today is a punishable offense, which can result in a dishonorable discharge or even criminal charges. The military relies on random drug tests and heavy consequences to keep their personnel clean and sober, but it doesn’t always work. In 2010 and 2011, the military suspected that 56 soldiers serving in Afghanistan were using opiates. At this time, eight soldiers had already died from overdoses involving heroin, oxycodone and morphine.
Because Afghanistan provides almost 90 percent of the opium in the world, it’s a tempting substance to soldiers. Investigations found that soldier were sold illegal substances, including heroin, Xanax, oxycodone, marijuana and morphine by Afghan police, soldiers and interpreters.
Veterans With Addictions
It’s estimated that approximately 20 percent of combat veterans who return from war struggle with addiction to alcohol or drugs. Only one-tenth of these individuals report their issues to others and enter substance abuse treatment. In many cases, both active duty members and veterans suffer from a mental health disorder called PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Many suffering from PTSD use alcohol or drug to self-treat.
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs PTSD is high among veterans. It affects:
- 10 percent of those in the Gulf War
- 11 percent of veterans in Afghanistan
- 20 percent of those in the Iraq War
- 31 percent of veterans in the Vietnam War
Approximately 60 to 80 percent of Vietnam veterans suffering from PTSD also have a substance abuse problem.
Substance Abuse Treatment For Active Military and Veterans
With so many in the military suffering from substance abuse issues, the right type of substance abuse treatment is needed. At Gracious Care Recovery Solutions, we provide military members with the treatment they need. We offer innovative therapies that help treat addiction and co-occurring disorders like PTSD. Our highly-trained staff understands the special triggers, issues and stresses of those in the active military. We strive to provide a safe, comfortable substance abuse treatment environment.
Start the healing process now.