Life in the military comes with many hurdles and challenges. Whether it is being away from loved ones for extended periods of time, dealing with intense levels of stress in combat situations, or simply the adjustment one has to make between civilian and military life. Life in the military is not without its difficulties. But another element that can create serious issues in the military is addiction.
Addiction rates in military show how life as a soldier can lead to additional life strains as compared with individuals who never serve in the military. It’s important to understand the presence of these differences so treatment can be adjusted and targeted towards this specific part of the population.
How Addiction Affects the Military
Addiction is obviously not something that is unique to the military. According to the Surgeon General,1 in 7 Americans (approximately 21 million Americans) will deal with substance addiction at some point in their lives. While it’s clear addiction doesn’t discriminate in terms of who it affects, there are important differences to be aware of when it comes to the addiction rates in the military vs. the general population.
In terms of the substances which service personnel will become addicted to, members of the military generally find themselves becoming addicted to alcohol and tobacco more frequently than the general population. However, military members are less likely to abuse illicit and illegal substances than civilians. This is often due to the rigorous testing policies within the military and the overall availability of these substances. Because alcohol and tobacco are accepted within the military, it is clear why the incidence of addiction is higher among military members with these particular substances.
Beyond the usual suspects of alcohol and tobacco, prescription drugs are a huge issue for individuals in the military. This is due to the fact that the military has a zero-tolerance policy for members who use illicit drugs, making prescription drugs a much more attractive option to those seeking to use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 11 percent of service members reported abusing prescription drugs, a significant increase from 2002 when only 2 percent of service members reported such an addiction. The majority of the drugs which are abused by military members fall under the opioid pain pill category, as many service personnel is prescribed these substances to deal with issues related to their line of work.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction have become increasingly prevalent in the military. Among many veterans, the symptoms of PTSD have been linked to increased alcohol consumption, opioid use and greater difficulty returning to civilian life.
For individuals in the military dealing with substance addiction, there are options available to provide necessary relief. There is a wide range of addiction programs available to service members, ones which tackle not only substance addiction but can also treat mental health issues that can be connected to the addiction. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, provides military personnel with important and effective treatment programs that can offer needed interventions to this often crippling condition. As with any serious addiction, effective prevention programs that address the reasons for addiction and prepare a person to reject using a substance are a useful tool to defend against the incidence of addictive behavior.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, military or not, contact Ocean Hills Recovery today to keep you focused on the path to recovery. We offer a solutions-focused approach which is structured according to each person’s individual situation. In order to effectively treat a co-occurring disorder such as PTSD and addiction, an individual should seek the help of a reputable rehab facility. Relapse doesn’t need to be viewed as a failure, but it can only become a success if you decide to take the next step and address the problem.
Let the caring clinicians of Ocean Hills Recovery help you jump-start the recovery process and keep you on the road to sobriety.