Substance abuse




Militaryoperations and combat missions have an adverse health impact onsoldiers such as physical injuries, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD), and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) among others[ CITATION Oui96 l 1033 ].Drugs and alcohol misuse among war veterans remains to be a greatconcern. Military officers are reported to suffer from mental illnessbrought about by drug and alcohol problems. In the recent past, casesof domestic violence and suicide among soldiers have increased as aresult of PTSD and mental illness. Various studies on drug andsubstance abuse among soldiers have indicated that the drug andsubstance problem among soldiers has become rampant even for theactive-duty officer. As a result, intervention measures by theNational Institute on Drug and Abuse (NIDA) and the government haveled to the institutionalization of various health policies[ CITATION NID13 l 1033 ].The essay elucidates on the increased substance abuse among militarypersonnel as a result of ill-informed medical officers, and howsoldiers have resorted to heavy alcohol drinking as a way of dealingwith PTSD condition.


Therehas been an increased substance abuse among the United Sates militarypersonnel, resulting in a health concern for the forces and theirfamilies. The traumas of military operations and the reintegration ofsoldiers upon returning from war are the main triggers of substanceabuse and other social health problems[ CITATION NIA15 l 1033 ].Most military personnel tend to deal with their Post-traumatic StressDisorder (PTSD) conditionby using drugs, alcohol, and smoking. According to medicalpractitioners, patients of PTSD have a high-risk substance abusebefore and after acquiring PTSD. A traumatic event increases thechances of an individual falling victim of drug and substance abuse.Gradually, the overuse of drugs and substance develops into aSubstance Use Disorder (SUD), leading to a co-occurring PTSD andSUD[ CITATION McF98 l 1033 ].

Accordingto reports by the Department of Defense Health Behavior Survey,illicit drug use in the military has dropped, but there is anincrease in prescription drug abuse and alcohol consumption. Despitethe use of prohibited drugs, for example, marijuana, heroin, andcocaine, among soldiers, being low the use of prescription drugsespecially pain relievers has skyrocketed. The implementation of thezero drug tolerance policy among Department of Defense personnel in1982 has controlled the use of illicit drugs by ensuring officersundertake frequent and random drug tests[ CITATION Oui96 l 1033 ].Most veterans have grave injuries from, and the availability of painrelievers on base may result in misuse and abuse of these drugs. Thestudy indicated that the misuse of prescription drugs among militarypersonnel was four times higher than that of civilians. The problemof drug and substance abuse has affected women most compared to men.The Veterans Administration stipulates that increased use of thesedrugs has majorly been triggered by PTSD of military sexualharassment and rape leading to drugs and alcohol problem[ CITATION NIA15 l 1033 ].

Alcoholis the most commonly abused drug among soldiers with about 27 percentof returning war soldiers meeting the criteria for medicaltreatment[ CITATION Oui96 l 1033 ].Soldiers from war escapades have been found to have a highvulnerability level of drug misuse and alcohol addiction problems.However, the screening procedure is one of the recommendations thatwould reduce the chances of drug-related problems among war veterans.According to the research, Army 2020, most soldiers keep their mentalhealth and drug issues hidden until they manifest in behaviors suchas domestic violence. The study showed a significant increase inalcohol and domestic violence among war veterans by 54 percent, in2012. Additionally, 43 percent of active-duty soldiers were found tobinge drink. On the other hand, the misuse rate of prescription drugsamong the civilian population was 4.4 percent compared to 11.7percent rate of the Department of Defense[ CITATION NID13 l 1033 ].In the army branch, women had the highest drug prescription misuserate of 18.8 percent as to 15.6 percent rate among men[ CITATION Oui96 l 1033 ].

Recommendationand Conclusion

Theease of accessibility and availability of these drugs on base hasresulted in misuse and addiction problems. The Institute of Medicine(IOM) published a report to the Department of Defense with variousrecommendations for the increased use of drugs and substance amongsoldiers[ CITATION NID13 l 1033 ].For instance, the report suggests an increased use evidence-baseddeterrence and treatment measures through the expansion of healthcare access. Moreover, a comprehensive insurance cover that providesfor outpatient treatment would help in effective screening practicesand early detection of the problem before it gets out of hand. Theaccess to alcohol and prescription drugs ought to be limited to thebase toavoid adverse health concerns.

Addressingof the drug and substance abuse in the military requiresconfidentiality to prevent inducing fear among the associatedsoldiers. Some military branches have taken measures to curb the useof drugs and alcohol on base by implementing health policies onprescription drugs. Finally, the National Institute on Drug and Abuse(NIDA) in collaboration with the government have sponsored a coupleof research studies to determine the underlying cause of drug,substance, and alcohol issue among military personnel to better dealwith the concern[ CITATION NID13 l 1033 ].


McFarlane, A. (1998). Epidemiological evidence about the relationship between PTSD and alcohol abuse: the nature of the association. Addictive Behaviors, 23 (6), 813-825.

NIAAA. (2015). Alcohol and Stress in the Military. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2-6.

NIDA. (2013). Drug Facts: Substance Abuse in the Military. National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2-5.

Ouimette, P., Wolfe, J., &amp Chrestman, K. (1996). Characteristics of posttraumatic stress disorder-alcohol abuse comorbidity in women. Journal of Substance Abuse, 8 (3), 335-346.

Zoroya, G. (2012). Study: Military needs to better address substance abuse by troops. Detroit Free Press, 1-3.