Resources for Military Families and Military Veterans
Addiction and Substance Abuse are concerns within the military community, just like in the broader community. It can often feel difficult to seek the help that you or your family member needs when they are struggling with the effects of substance abuse and the challenges of addiction, especially if they are on active duty.
- In 2014, Research showed that the Veteran’s addiction phase was 4 years longer than non-vets and they experienced significantly more financial and legal problems. Dramatic improvements in functioning were observed across the board in recovery with subgroup differences levelling off. (J Addict Dis. 2014; 33(2): 148–162. DOI: 10.1080/10550887.2014.909702).
- Alcohol use is consistently higher among active-duty military personnel than among civilians (2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)). However, although soldiers endorse alcohol problems at rates similar to those of other mental health concerns, referral to alcohol services and use of these services is dramatically lower than for other mental health concerns. Specifically, in one 2007 study, of 56,350 active soldiers, 11.8% endorsed alcohol misuse, 0.2% were referred, and only 29 of these were seen within 90 days (JAMA).
- In 2018, Approximately 9% of Veterans in the US reported cannabis use in the previous 12 months. Older, and female, Veterans had lower odds of past-year cannabis use. Veterans who were unmarried, out of the workforce, had greater functioning disability, nicotine dependence, heavy episodic alcohol use, alcohol use disorder, and drug use had greater odds of past-year cannabis use. In states where medical cannabis was legal in 2014, approximately 41% of Veterans who used cannabis in the past year used it medically. Those who used medically were older and less likely to engage in recent heavy episodic drinking or to meet criteria for alcohol abuse/dependence, compared to Veterans using non-medically. (Addict Behav. 2018 Jan; 76: 223–228.Published online 2017 Aug 18. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.08.010).
- Compared to non-Veterans in the US general population, recent cannabis use was similar or slightly lower among Veterans. However, among those with past-year use, the proportion of those using medically was more than double that of the general population. Because only non-medical cannabis use was associated with higher rates of heavy episodic alcohol use and alcohol use disorder, it may be important to address problematic alcohol consumption among this high-risk group (Addict Behav. 2018 Jan; 76: 223–228.)
Prescription drug use and abuse are on the rise, and there is increasing research to demonstrate a link between PTSD and substance abuse (as a form of self-medication).
Here are some helpful resources:
REACHOUT Hotline: Linking those in need of mental health or substance abuse services with providers 24 hours a day. Call 800-522-9054.
Gambling Addiction: The problem and Compulsive Gambling Helpline
1-800-522-4700 Toll-Free, 24-Hours a Day, Certified Gambling Counselors
US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Resources for Returning Veterans and Their Families (SAMHSA)
Military.com: The Facts of Addiction
Substance Abuse and the Family at Real Warriors
Phoenix House: Substance Abuse Rehab for military members and their families
“Substance use and abuse have long been a concern for the nation, both in and out of the workplace (IOM, 1994), with consequences that include lost productivity, disease, and premature death. Indeed, it has been estimated that more than one in four deaths in the United States each year can be attributed to the use of alcohol, illicit drugs, or tobacco (Horgan et al., 2001). Thus, it is no surprise that substance abuse is a significant issue for the U.S. military.”
PTSD and Substance Abuse in Veterans
Active-duty sailors can get support and education from the Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Program (NADAP). The NADAP sponsors prevention programs and provides resources for sailors seeking treatment. In 2010, the Navy joined forces with a major non-profit addiction treatment center to provide counseling and support via the Internet for sailors who are currently deployed around the world.
The Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) provides counseling, education and rehabilitation services for active military personnel. Active-duty soldiers are encouraged to seek help for drug or alcohol abuse by self-referring to their local ASAP counseling center, but commanders and other military personnel can also refer soldiers who show signs of substance abuse.
The Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) Substance Abuse Program provides outpatient care and intensive rehabilitation for active-duty Marines who suffer from substance use disorders. Substance Abuse Counseling Centers sponsored by the MCCS offer initial screening and assessment, early intervention for low-risk drug or alcohol users, outpatient services for Marines who have signs of substance abuse, and intensive outpatient care for chemically dependent Marines.
Helpful Tips for assisting a loved one
- Offer sympathy and support
- Actively listen to their concerns
- Acknowledge concerning behaviors
- Seek expert advice
- Consult others ‘in recovery’
- Assist with chosen form of treatment
- Panic or offer pity
- Offer monetary assistance
- Set unrealistic goals
- Cut off dialogue
- Influence treatment
Admitting a substance abuse problem is a difficult task. Keeping an open mind will help create a safe environment that may encourage service members to talk more openly and seek help.
See also Mental Health
This directory of resources is provided for information only. No assertions, promises, endorsement, or advice is offered or given as to the quality or legitimacy of any of these links or organizations. Do your own due diligence. When in doubt seek independent legal and financial advice. No commercial relationship (legal or otherwise) is formed through you visiting this website or any of the links provided here.
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Anna Blanch Rabe, founder of Anna Blanch Rabe & Associates, has been working with Social Enterprises, socially-responsible businesses, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations since 2006 to develop and effectively execute strategic, digital, and narrative initiatives to gain exposure, develop community- capacity, attract talent, and reach new customers. Anna is an Australian-born speaker, writer and advocate. Connect with Anna on Instagram, facebook page, & Twitter.