Substance Abuse in the Military

While the focus of substance abuse is often on schools and colleges, the truth of the crisis extends far beyond that. For one, substance abuse is a huge problem in the military, both during employment and once a soldier has returned home. The stress from being in the military, combined with the possibilities for PTSD from what a soldier has experienced during their time in the military, can create a situation wherein a soldier gives in to substance abuse more readily than someone who has not served in the military. If you or anyone you know is serving in the military and is struggling with substance abuse, it’s essential that you seek help right away. The following is a closer look at how substance abuse affects those in the military.

Reasons for Substance Abuse Within Military

There are a plethora of reasons why substance abuse within the military is such an issue. As mentioned previously, the stress, both during and after deployment, can be a huge factor in driving a soldier to partake in substance abuse. One important aspect of substance abuse is that it tends to take a different form within the military than among civilians. For instance, while civilians are heavy users of recreational drugs, such as cocaine, heroin and marijuana, military personnel use alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs more than anything else.

The reason for this is two-fold. First, it’s more difficult to gain access to recreational drugs on a wide scale basis for those stationed at certain military bases or overseas, particularly in comparison to how easy it is to get a hold of alcohol and prescription drugs. Second of all, the military instituted a no drug policy in the early 1980’s that allows them to perform random drug tests on a regular basis, which could lead to a criminal trial. As such, it’s much easier to use substances that are actually legal.

Most Prevalent Substances That are Being Abused

When looking at which substances are abused most commonly in the military, alcohol is far and away the most prevalent, as it is easy to obtain by personnel and is stated to have been heavily consumed by well over 20 percent of those enlisted in 2008. Tobacco is currently in heavy use as well, as are a myriad of prescription drugs, particularly OxyContin and Tylenol.

Relevant Statistic About Substance Abuse in the Military

There are a wide variety of statistics that point towards how large of an issue substance abuse has become in the military. As mentioned previously, over 20 percent of enlisted service members reported to heavy drinking in 2008, while 47 percent of enlisted participated in binge drinking in the same year. This number has undoubtedly risen since then. Prescription drug use is actually one of the more rapidly increasing forms of substance abuse in the military, as only two percent reported to abusing this substance in 2002, which grew drastically to 11 percent in 2008.

This issue has proven difficult for the military to regulate due to the legality of these substances, including certain medications if the service members contains a prescription. When looking at the role of tobacco abuse in the military, it’s important to note that over 30 percent of those in the military engage in tobacco use. In comparison, only around 20 percent of civilians use tobacco. If you or someone you know is a part of these statistics, don’t hesitate to get the treatment you need immediately.

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