Substance Abuse in Active Military
Although substance abuse is well known issues among veterans, alcohol and drug abuse is also a significant problem among active military. There are several factors that have led to substance abuse issues among military members, including:
- High Rates of Mental Health Disorders – Posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and depression are common among military members and they will turn to substance abuse to self-medicate.
- Treat Injuries – opiate painkillers like morphine are often used to treat combat related injuries and strain from extreme physical exertion. It alleviates pain but is also highly addictive and are commonly prescribed to active service members, resulting in high opioid addiction rates.
- Boredom – Life in the military can be either very exciting or pretty boring. During that time of not having much to do, many will seek entertainment from nightlife which often involves drugs and alcohol.
- Service Culture – access to inexpensive alcohol in military bases and workplace culture encourage binge drinking and underage drinking.
- Stigma Surrounding Mental Health Treatment – because they do not feel comfortable getting mental health treatment, they will be at higher risk for using substance abuse to deal with posttraumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorders.
- Enhance Performance – military personnel may use amphetamines and methamphetamines to stay awake and alert.
5 Drugs of Choice of Active Military Members
Among those in the military, certain substances tend to be more abused than others. Alcohol and prescription medications tend to be more abused than illicit drugs because of the military’s zero tolerance rules with drugs. However they do tend to use the type of drugs as civilians. The most common type of substances abused by enlisted members include:
- Alcohol. Research has shown that both deployment and combat exposure correlated with increased alcohol intake, binge drinking, and other alcohol use disorders. Often used for dealing with anxiety and depression.
- Amphetamines. Used to stay awake and alert, also to treat attention deficit disorder.
- Cocaine. Used to self-medicate against depression and fatigue.
- Marijuana. For combating anxiety and depression.
- Opioids. Often prescribed for pain but they’re highly addictive.
The Effects of Addiction in the Military
Everyone will suffer negative consequences from substance abuse, but for those in the military those consequences can be even worse, usually do to the high risk situations they are in. Substance abuse among service members not only puts them in danger, but also their fellow service men or women and their superiors.
Dangers of addiction of active military members includes:
- Health risks – excessive drug and alcohol use can strain on the cardiovascular system causing rigorous physical exercise to be dangerous.
- Personal safety on the battlefield – substance abuse will cause slowed reaction times, inhibit judgment, and increase the risk of being separated from fellow soldiers.
- Conflict and tension among fellow service members – drug and alcohol use can cause personality changes and volatile moods which can cause conflict.
- Jeopardizing safety of other service members and superiors – while under the influence, soldiers may be too inhibited to be reliable for everyone’s safety.
- Possibility of dishonorable discharge – the military has a zero drug policy and testing positive for illicit drugs can result in a dishonorable discharge.
Addiction Treatment for Military Members at Quantum
Quantum Behavioral Health Services offers dual diagnosis treatment programs to help military members dealing with substance abuse and cooccurring disorders like posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and depression. Our addiction recovery programs are personalized for each person and can include several types of addiction therapies which can address the root cause. We also offer several types of holist therapies which can help support conventional addiction treatment methods and help heal the body, mind, and spirit for long term recovery from substance abuse.
If you or a loved one in the military is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please do not hesitate to call us today at (609) 993-0733.