United States Military Substance Abuse

United States Military Substance Abuse

Alcohol and substance abuse have been a bother to many people in the society. The society has been in constant conflict with the substance abusers for all the wrong reason. The enforcers and the military personnel have not been immune to substance abuse, but a long history of drug and substance abuse has been reported in the military. Of concern is the recent increase in the rate of substance abuse among the service members. Some of the servicemen have been on heavy alcohol use, and binge drinking. The consumption of these drugs amounts to public health crises, security concerns as well as enforcement incapability. Despite the fact that the substance abuse and illicit drugs cannot be compared with the civilian consumption, the prescription drug abuse, and tobacco use has been on the rise. The problems and stresses that are associated with deployment during the timesof war, and the military culture may explain the minimal alcohol consumption rates by the service men (Stahre, Brewer, Fonseca, &Naimi, 2009). All in all, the policy adherence rules of zero tolerance and the stigmatization poses big challenges in identifying and addressing the substance abuse issues. The officers who have multiple deployment history and combat exposure are more likely to engage in and develop substance abuse issues. The social workers therefore have an important role to play when addressing the risk factors, the causes as well as the treatment programs that may be employed in the military to help reduce and prevent the increasing rate of substance abuse by the servicemen. These programs include counselling services, PTSD programs, among others. This being the case, substance abuse among the military men is a serious issue that require attention from the relevant authorities. This paper will therefore aim at identifying substance abuse treatment programs that are employed by the social workers.

The social workers in relation to the military personnel who have problems with the substance abuse undertake various measures to address the issues. When trying to treat the issues with the military personnel, they intervene in various dimensions, including restorative intervention, preemptive intervention, work, person as well as the workplace interventions (Snyder & Monson, 2012). As the social worker undertakes the restorative intervention, various problem-solving mechanisms are brought into the light to address the cause of the drug abuse. The aim of the restorative intervention is to help the affected category of servicemen to come to terms with the issue, and face the reality, without fearing the stigmatization that may arise, thus adapting the problem solving and coping capabilities (Institute of Medicine, 2013). One of the approaches that could be employed is the use of therapeutic treatment. This is because the issue of substance abuse not only affects the military personnel, but also their families, the community as well as the service itself. In this, the social worker addresses the initial problems that prompt the service person to engage in substance abuse. The worker therefore aims first and foremost to work with the client so that sobriety can be achieved. This could be done through constant counselling, treatment as well as a change of the working situation of the serviceman. This implies that the military personnel may put in constant therapeutic observation so that they can be helped to end substance abuse. It should however be noted that the soldiers may be having PTSD as a result of constant deployment and redeployment in various places. The exposure of the harsh conditions, or the encounter that may be wanting may have led to the current condition of the servicemen. This being the case, social workers who are experienced task themselves with treating the PTSD conditions in the military.

With the help of the senior member of the military forces, the social workers are also involved in promoting intervention, whereby, they offer educational and developmental services to the servicemen. It should be noted that the DOD does not offer counselling services in certain issues including depression, drug and substance abuse, PTSD among other services, but can offer referral services to qualified social workers who in turn can help the affected persons and their families in recovering from the issue. The service members who have alcohol and drug issues can access intervention services in a number of ways. The social worker can assess and offer treatment services to the members who report to them on a voluntary basis. Though upon detection by their superiors may be subject to disciplinary actions, the social worker can help the members of the military in a big way.

The social worker upon identifying the category and criteria to help the servicemen with issues regarding substance and drug abuse may employ some of the following approaches. Knowing the stage and the degree of the addiction and abuse can offer a comprehensive treatment program in addition to the development of a comprehensive treatment schedule based on the degree and the level of addiction class, and type of drug used. This could be possible upon getting the information through the initial assessment stage of enrolment by the service men to the rehabilitation program. Giving personalized care is important in addressing individual needs. It can also help the patients have confidence in the program and therefore nurture a positive change towards the program (Zaejian, 2012). At the same time, group and individual counselling session would be helpful to the addicted.  Group counselling is vital as it helps an individual have a positive attitude towards the program as well as reduce the costs involved in attending to an individual person. It should be noted that the services offered to group counselling in most cases occur to veterans who have left the force and are therefore not affected by the fear of sacking or enjoying military benefits.Otherwise, the serving military men must approach the subject with caution and secrecy since they fear being dismissed from the service upon being caught abusing drugs.

The veterans who abuses drugs can also be assisted by the social workers through education. Informing the abusers on the effects of addiction on their physical, psychological and spiritual implications through various means like lectures, films, and other educational forums may help the veterans in reconsidering their substance abuse trend and may be desist from such behaviours (Care of military service members, veterans, and their families, 2014). Upon leaving the force, the social workers together with other governmental bodies could help these persons to engage in positive undertakings, thus keeping their minds and wellbeing busy, such that there would be minimal time to engage in drug abuse. Similarly, the addicted and those recovering from addiction, teaching them coping skills would help them in their recovery process. This should be carried out in a continued treatment program so as to ensure that there is a long term recovery.


The contemporary military has a substance abuse problem. The problem has been escalating in the recent times and may soon go out of hand if not checked. The service men and women have been unable to seek remedies because of various reasons including lack of the rehabilitation services since the military does not offer one, the gaps present in the TRICARE coverage, stigmawithin the force, the fear of consequences as well as the lack of confidential undertaking within the caregivers. The social workers have therefore a big role to play to help the service persons overcome the various problems and issues that they face concerning substance abuse. Various reasons contribute to military substance abuse, including exposure to risks, constant deployment and redeployment, peers pressure among other factors.The social worker can undertake various measures, including offering rehabilitation services, treatment programs, education, counselling services among other services. There is more that needs to be done on the service men since, the risks that they are involved in sometimes prompts them to engage in illicit and illegal drug use. Statistics have shown that the risk and stressful situations that the servicemen undergoes have the possibility of changing their negatively since they may die in the line of duty, have extended deployment, face stressful combat situations as well as PTSD and life threatening injuries that may alter their life permanently. These situations may lead to the members of the military engaging in substance abuse as a way of eliminating the stressful ordeals. All in all, the social workers should embark on a continuous counselling to the military so that they can get the necessary psychological support instead of engaging in substance abuse.


Care of military service members, veterans, and their families. (2014). Washington: Amer Psychiatric.

Institute of Medicine (U.S.)., In O’Brien, C., In Oster, M., In Morden, E., & Institute of Medicine (U.S.). (2013). Substance use disorders in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Snyder, D. K., & Monson, C. M. (2012). Couple-based interventions for military and veteran families: A practitioner’s guide. New York: Guilford Press.

Zaejian, J. (2012). Healing Personal Psychology. eBookIt. com.

Stahre, M. A., Brewer, R. D., Fonseca, V. P., &Naimi, T. S. (2009). Binge drinking among US active-duty military personnel. American journal of preventive medicine, 36(3), 208-217.