Drug Abuse in the Military and Improving Treatment Options

Abusing drugs is not only for the homeless and mentally ill. It crosses all social lines. The military has seen its fair share of drug use. Military personnel use less illicit drugs than civilians more often than not, but the use of alcohol and prescription drugs is on the rise and is higher than civilian use. The Department of Defense has a zero tolerance policy on the use of drugs in the armed forces. This policy makes it difficult for a member of the military to seek help for a substance abuse problem. The stigma abuse causes and the lack of confidentiality are a major deterrent from identifying abuse.

Members of the military undergo tremendous stress during wartime deployment. Mental illness or PTSD among the military is on the rise. These stresses can be the trigger that causes someone to start experimenting with alcohol and drugs. Those who have seen multiple wartime deployments are more prone to abuse drugs. Drug abuse has led to the suicide rate among the military to surpass the civilian rate for the first time since 2008.

The military has had to change its view on handling drug addiction amongst its ranks. More control over prescriptions has taken place. Effective outpatient and Inpatient treatment programs are now being instituted. Insurance coverage for treatment programs has improved. The military is moving towards adopting more confidentiality and fewer stigmas surrounding drug abuse to encourage those struggling with abuse to seek help without fear of retribution.


N.A. “DrugFacts: Substance Abuse in the Military.” Drugabuse.gov (Website). (2013).
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