The men and women who serve in the military face unique challenges that can lead to substance abuse and addiction. Fortunately, the military has recognized the need to address these issues and has implemented programs to help soldiers overcome addiction. In this article, we will explore military substance abuse programs, veteran substance abuse statistics, commonly abused drugs among service members, the impact of military substance abuse on mental health, military discharge for drug use, consequences and resources for veterans, addressing the stigma of mental health in the military, strategies for helping veterans with mental illness, and resources for military substance abuse and mental health support.
Introduction to Military Substance Abuse Programs
Military substance abuse programs are designed to help soldiers overcome addiction and provide support and resources for those struggling with substance abuse. These programs offer a variety of services, including counseling, therapy, education, and treatment for substance abuse disorders. They are available to active-duty service members, veterans, and their families.
The military recognizes that addiction can have a negative impact on a soldier’s ability to perform their duties and can lead to other problems, such as mental health issues, relationship problems, and legal troubles. Therefore, it is important for the military to provide resources to help soldiers overcome addiction and get back on track.
Understanding Veteran Substance Abuse Statistics
Substance abuse is a significant problem among veterans. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2019, an estimated 2.6 million veterans had a substance use disorder in the past year. Of these, 1.9 million had an alcohol use disorder, 552,000 had an illicit drug use disorder, and 358,000 had both.
The same survey found that veterans are more likely than non-veterans to have used illicit drugs in the past year. The rates of past-year marijuana use, cocaine use, and heroin use were higher among veterans than non-veterans.
These statistics highlight the need for effective substance abuse programs for veterans.
Commonly Abused Drugs Among Service members
Service members are more likely to abuse certain drugs than the general population. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most commonly abused drugs among service members are prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.
Prescription drug abuse is a significant problem among service members, particularly painkillers. The stress and physical demands of military life can lead to chronic pain, which is often treated with prescription painkillers. However, these drugs can be highly addictive and can lead to abuse and addiction.
Alcohol abuse is also a significant problem among service members. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 56% of active-duty service members reported binge drinking in the past month, and 15% reported heavy drinking.
Tobacco use is also higher among service members than the general population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24% of service members reported current tobacco use in 2019, compared to 14% of the general population.
The Impact of Military Substance Abuse on Mental Health
Military substance abuse can have a negative impact on mental health. Substance abuse can lead to or exacerbate mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is a particularly significant problem among veterans. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, up to 20% of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD in a given year. PTSD can lead to substance abuse as a way to cope with symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, and hyper-vigilance.
Furthermore, substance abuse can damage relationships, cause legal problems, and lead to financial difficulties, all of which can contribute to mental health problems.
Military Discharge for Drug Use: Consequences and Resources for Veterans
Military discharge for drug use is a serious consequence that can have long-lasting effects on a veteran’s life. A dishonorable discharge can make it difficult to find employment, obtain housing, and access benefits such as healthcare and education.
However, veterans who are discharged for drug use are not without resources. The Department of Veterans Affairs provides a variety of services for veterans, including healthcare, disability compensation, and education and training benefits.
Furthermore, veterans who are struggling with substance abuse can receive treatment through the VA with many options for insurance coverage. VA substance abuse programs offer a range of services, including detoxification, inpatient and outpatient treatment, and medication-assisted treatment.
Addressing the Stigma of Mental Health in the Military
Stigmas associated with health conditions are defined as negative attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors towards individuals who have a particular health condition. Unfortunately, mental health stigmas are prevalent in the military.
Many service members and veterans are reluctant to seek treatment for mental health problems due to the stigma surrounding mental illness. They may fear that seeking help will be seen as a sign of weakness or that it will harm their career.
To address the stigma of mental health in the military, it is important to educate service members and veterans about the importance of seeking treatment and to provide resources and support for those who do. This can include peer support groups, mental health education, and counseling services.
How Military Substance Abuse Programs are Helping Soldiers Overcome Addiction
Military substance abuse programs are making a significant impact in helping soldiers overcome addiction. These programs offer a variety of services, including counseling, therapy, and treatment for substance abuse disorders. They also provide education and resources to help soldiers maintain sobriety and prevent relapse.
One example of a successful military substance abuse program is the Warrior Care Network. This program provides intensive outpatient treatment for veterans with PTSD and substance abuse disorders. The program uses evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and prolonged exposure therapy, to help veterans overcome their addiction and improve their mental health.
Strategies for Helping Veterans with Mental Illness
There are several strategies that can help veterans with mental illness, including substance abuse disorders. These strategies include:
- Encouraging veterans to seek treatment
- Providing education about mental health and substance abuse
- Offering peer support groups
- Providing access to counseling and therapy
- Offering medication-assisted treatment
- Providing resources for family members and caregivers
Resources for Military Substance Abuse and Mental Health Support
There are many resources available for military substance abuse and mental health support. These resources include:
- VA substance abuse programs
- VA Mental Health services
- Military OneSource
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous
Conclusion: Breaking the Stigma and Supporting Our Brave Soldiers
Military substance abuse programs are making a significant impact in helping soldiers overcome addiction and improve their mental health. However, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health in the military that needs to be addressed. By providing education, resources, and support, we can break the stigma and help our brave soldiers get the help they need to overcome addiction and improve their mental health.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, consider reaching out to The Nestled Addiction Treatment Center in Las Vegas. They offer a program tailored to veterans and active service members that can help you overcome addiction and improve your mental health.