Substance Abuse in the Armed Forces

Substance Abuse in the Armed Forces

Those in the armed forces risk their lives for our country. Yet, sadly, through this level of pressure, substance abuse is rising, and becoming the norm among the armed forces culture.

From working through mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, to combating loneliness and depression while on active duty, those within the military services are susceptible to relying on alcohol and prescription drugs.

If you’re unfortunately experiencing substance abuse while in the armed forces, please be reassured that help is available. Although substance abuse may be your coping mechanism to work through active mental health disorders or through your military life, there are healthy ways to overcome this dependence.

Here at Rehab Clinics Group, we have witnessed some of the most severe cases of drug and alcohol addiction. We’ve also seen substance use disorders in the military grow. However, through specialist support and addiction treatments, we’ve watched the bravery of many military personnel take over and fully rehabilitate from this. Feel free to contact our team for a confidential chat about your experiences with substance abuse.


Why is substance abuse in the armed forces rising?

Like any individual on the planet, the potential of developing an addiction for military personnel is present. However, unlike the average person, those in the armed forces are faced with greater challenges, exposures and common triggers associated with substance abuse.

One of the biggest driving forces of addiction are underlying mental health issues. Through active combat duties, many members of the military unfortunately experience a degree of mental health issues. This is down to the distressing scenes they witness each day. To cope through those mental health disorders and unpleasant memories, alcohol will be used as an escape. Likewise, prescription drugs may be used to treat mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety. However, through this coping mechanism comes the likelihood of developing an addiction.

A further factor influencing substance abuse in the armed forces is loneliness. Although branded as a strong, united family, military life can be lonely. Many military personnel have families at home who they greatly miss. This loneliness is known to fuel the likes of opioid use disorders, unknowingly.

While a part of the military, it can be difficult to see how it’s culture can influence substance abuse. However, the social influences surrounding military services is known to motivate alcohol consumption, blurring the lines between the norm and substance abuse. This is where many individuals become caught by addiction and find it difficult to revert from their norm.

If you’re currently abusing drugs and alcohol or worry that your role in the armed forces is influencing a dependence on addictive substances, it is important that you open up, sooner rather than later. Without control, long-term service within the armed forces can turn into life-long behaviours, emotions and addictions.


Post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse

Alongside the above causations, post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the most common influences, motivating substance abuse. PTSD is a mental illness where ex-military personnel will experience flashbacks of previous traumatic events while out on combat duties. Here, individuals will experience anxiety, panic attacks, consistent fear and further mental health issues.

Unfortunately, for many individuals, PTSD goes undiagnosed, where drugs and alcohol are used to self-medicate. This is where the vicious circle of addiction can sadly begin, where drugs and alcohol are used to cope through those memories or nightmares. If PTSD is diagnosed, there’s still potential for substance abuse to develop. Prescription drugs are commonly abused by individuals among the military, suffering with post-traumatic stress and mental health illnesses.

It’s important to remember that underlying mental health issues are the main causations for the average addiction. However, as mental health disorders among military personnel are more likely, addictive behaviours have greater chances of developing.


Rehabilitating from substance abuse

If you’re suffering alone through substance abuse, where drugs and alcohol or prescription drugs are used to cope, please remember that there’s opportunity for you to overcome this difficult time. Through a treatment programme, with a significant focus on psychological treatment options, substance abuse can be diminished. Likewise, the associated memories and emotions linked to your time in the armed forces can be worked through, helping you avoid future substance abuse.

Common treatment options recommended for substance abuse include:

A drug and alcohol detox programme

In most cases, a drug and alcohol detox programme will be required to kickstart recovery. This will work on the initial physical dependence linked to substance abuse. Although difficult to firstly complete, a successfully completed detox programme will increase your readiness to recover.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

As substance abuse in the armed forces is commonly influenced by mental health issues or PTSD, psychologically driven treatment options are imperative. Cognitive behavioural therapy is where addiction counsellors will work with you to overcome your fearful or distressing associations with the armed forces. In turn, your reliance on drugs and alcohol will be diminished, down to your psychological shift. Although this may seem impossible to overcome now, there is potential to heal from your previous encounters.

Support groups

Those among the armed forces will place great value on support and unity. Through support groups, this exact feeling will be found. You will be surrounded by individuals in a similar situation to you, with the aim to reach addiction recovery. This supportive setting will help you become accountable for your drug and alcohol consumption, along with motivating you to open up and welcome support.

Motivational therapy

Once substance abuse becomes your norm, you may find it difficult to revert to your reality before serving in the armed forces. Yet, through motivational therapy and a range of counselling sessions, you’ll find your purpose to recover from substance abuse and continue through addiction treatment.

Although this may initially be overwhelming to take in, with the right support and the determination to recover, addiction recovery can be experienced. Through our experience here at Rehab Clinics Group, we understand that many military personnel will experience a dual diagnosis of a mental health issue or PTSD. With this in mind, treatment for both substance abuse and PTSD will be required, separately to fully combat addiction.

To experience addiction recovery, get in touch with our team today. Although substance abuse in the armed forces is common, we can help you avoid a future of life-limiting challenges linked to long-term addiction. Visit one of our rehab facilities today and overcome your dependence on drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs.