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Military Drug Abuse and Treatment

War is a horrific event that can emotionally scar even the toughest person for life. Being deployed, away from family and friends for extended periods of time, being involved in combat, suffering from severe or disabling injuries, and watching fellow soldier die during war can all take a toll on a soldier. When many return back home to civilian life, they may never be the same. They may be distressed or frustrated because of the injuries they received. They may be devastated about the blood and death they saw on the battle field.

How Drug Abuse Starts in the Military

The effects of war can result in traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To feel better, soldiers may turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, while illegal drug use is seeing a decline, the use of prescription drugs and alcohol is rising. In the military, prescription drug abuse tripled from 2005 to 2008. Alcohol abuse is also prevalent, with 27 percent of U.S. Army soldiers meeting the criteria for alcohol abuse within four months after returning home from deployment.

These statistics may be attributed to the high rates of mental illness among soldiers, since drug use and mental illness often go together. A study showed that 20 percent of active soldiers and 42 percent of reserve soldiers required treatment for a mental health condition.

According to an article from news website Global Post, between 2010 and 2011, 56 soldiers in the U.S. Army were investigated for illegal drug use after eight soldiers overdosed and died. The article also discusses the rise of heroin use in the military. In 2002, 10 soldiers tested positive for the drug. In 2010, that number jumped to 116. Because Afghanistan is the largest producer of opium worldwide, it is suspected that many soldiers bought heroin, morphine and oxycodone while they were stationed there.

The military is strict about illegal drug use and even the use of legal drugs, such as prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs and herbal remedies. The Department of Defense operates on a zero-tolerance policy, since drugs can affect the brain and body in various ways, which is not helpful when trying to fight a war.

*What Drugs Does the Military Test For?

The Department of Defense is very strict about drug use in the military. Tests are becoming more and more sensitive to detect even the smallest traces of drugs in a person’s body. This is because those in the military must be fully aware of their actions at all times, since they are responsible for specialized equipment and complex computer systems. According to the American Forces Press Service, here is a list of the drugs that the military tests for:

  • Marijuana
  • Opiates (which include prescription drugs, heroin and morphine)
  • LSD
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • PCP
  • Barbiturates

Treatment for Those in the Military

The effects of war are widespread. They can include trauma and stress-related disorders, which can result in drug use and addiction. Fortunately, there are many treatment options for veterans, including specialized facilities and programs. We can help you find the right program for your needs, depending on the type of drug you are addicted to. We can also help you locate dual diagnosis centers, if mental illness is a factor in your case. Give us a call and let us help you regain freedom from drugs as you transition back into civilian life.