Military Substance Abuse on the Rise

A recent report by the Institute of Medicine will force the US military to recognize that substance abuse among its men and women is on the rise. Specifically, perscription drug abuse has increased from 2%-11% from 2005-2008, and one in four soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan last year admitted to binge drinking. Since 2001, prescription painkillers have become increasingly common; less than one million prescriptions were provided in 2001 and more than five million were provided last year. Binge drinking rates are highest among Marines (60%), and binge drinking rates are higher in the military than among the civilian population.

The Institute of Medicine’s report encouraged the Pentagon to revaluate access to alcohol on military bases, improve treatment programs, and make confidential counseling more readily available.

Read the full article here.

2 Responses to “Military Substance Abuse on the Rise”

  1. Edwin Bonilla Says:

    The statistics regarding alcohol abuse and abuse of prescription drugs by soldiers is troubling. The Institute of Medicine has a mistake in its recommendations to stop binge drinking. The organization said that “underage” drinking should be stopped. That’s not the answer because the Institute of Medicine is following an age discriminatory law that should be repealed in the United States. The Medicine of Health has also made a guideline which is in the direction of prohibition. That’s why I have my own recommendations. One is to lower the drinking age on military bases outside the U.S. Another recommendation is making sure that alcohol can only be consumed in certain places that would reduce the chance for binge drinking. Hopefully, the wellness of soldiers will increase because those statistics point towards a bad direction.

  2. Ajax the Great Says:

    The problems of substance abuse in the military (and among civilians for that matter) are not limited to alcohol. Other substances such as various illicit drugs, prescription painkillers, and quasi-legal designer drugs are a big problem as well. And suicides have skyrocketed in the military, as have cases of PTSD.

    The single best thing we can do is bring the troops home NOW and stop sending them to fight in fruitless foreign wars, which really seems to be the root of most of the problems. We already got Bin Laden over a year ago, and at least 80% of the other bad guys in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If Afghanistan still can’t stand on their own two feet after 11 years of occupation, they probably never will. The time for policing the world is over.

    As for alcohol, Edwin is right that neo-prohibitonist policies would be unlikely to do much good. What is needed is better alcohol education and treatment, as well as holding the real troublemakers accountable for their actions. Most overseas bases already have a drinking age of 18, by the way. But all bases in the USA are now 21 as of 2008, except for those in Puerto Rico.

    One may also ask if the policy of mandatory drug testing, which has been in place since 1971, has had the unintended consequence of pushing soldiers away from safer but more detectable drugs (like cannabis) towards more dangerous but less detectable drugs (like cocaine, LSD, prescription drugs, and quasi-legal designer drugs like bath salts and K2) and also encouraged even more heavy drinking than before. If so, the alleged benefits of drug testing are clearly not worth the staggering costs.

    Support out troops. Bring them home alive NOW!