Armed Forces and Addiction
It seems unearthly that our bravest men and women, who selflessly fight for our freedom and protection, are the most susceptible group to fall into drug and alcohol dependency brought upon by mental and physical trauma.
The connection to substance abuse for military members is very clear. Due to the nature of active duty, our military personnel are exposed to the harshest of human conditions of any other professional group. Combat itself requires witnessing and participating in brutal acts of war, experiencing countless loss as well as contributing to the elimination of life. There is no question that the lingering effects are profound after living within such a harsh environment.
Since 2001, which marks the start of the war in the East, statistics have shown a remarkable increase in the tendency for substance abuse and cognitive disorders amongst active duty and veteran soldiers. Since the military has a zero tolerance policy on illicit drug use, most cases include the abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs. A recent study shows that 11% of the military population is misusing prescription drugs and 47% are binge drinking, which is 17% higher than the national average that estimates about 30% of the American population is doing the same.
In 2001, only about 1% of active military members were using pain medication. Since then, the amount of prescription drug scripts have quadrupled to about 3.8 million within the armed forces, representing about 10% of the group.
This does not mean that military members are inherently prone to addiction. Understanding the effects of active warfare illustrates the pattern of abuse. It is estimated that 1 in 4 Afghanistan and Iraq veterans has developed a mental or cognitive disorder. 1 in 6 of our veterans have reported symptoms of PTSD. Since substance abuse is often followed by trauma, the proclivity to use mind and mood altering drugs to quell the traumatic effects of war is profound. It is estimated that 29% of military member suicides have indicated the use of drugs or alcohol.
The high rate of cognitive disorders and substance abuse as a result of trauma from active duty is unprecedented. Our current and former military members are at a far greater risk than any other group in our country to develop a crippling addiction because of their profession. They deserve the help of our rehabilitation centers to help heal them of their mental scars and physical dependency resulting from active duty. The best facilities offer programs specifically target to this segment who’s afflictions are distinct from other groups.
It can be very difficult for veterans to find the help they need after returning home, but facilities like the Hope Center for Rehabilitation have therapists who specialize in treating post-war trauma and addiction. In addition, military members suffering from similar behavioral issues are able to network with other veterans, helping grow their connection to a program of recovery within a group of like-minded individuals. If you are someone, or know someone in need of rehabilitation after returning home from war, call one of our specialists at 1-866-233-1969.
Our thanks to the members of the Veteran Vision Project who’s powerful images we used to make this article. Visit http://veteranvisionproject.com/ to see and learn more about the campaign.