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Increased Addiction Drug Rehab Need in Military: New IOM Report Offers Solutions to Reverse Rise in Substance Abuse

October 30th, 2012

Members of the military have been susceptible to substance abuse in the past, due to conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and debilitating war injuries. However, a recent report issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) shows that substance abuse by active-duty soldiers has spiked in the last few years.

Increased Addiction Drug Rehab Need in Military: New IOM Report Offers Solutions to Reverse Rise in Substance AbuseFortunately, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has taken notice of the growing problem and is seeking solutions to curb this epidemic.

In 2008, the last year for which data were collected, one in five active-duty troops admitted to drinking heavily. Also, binge drinking among the military jumped from 35 percent in 1998 to 47 percent in 2008. Eleven percent of active-duty soldiers admitted to “misusing” pharmaceuticals in 2008, as opposed to the 2 percent on record in 2002. In 2012, numbers are still possibly climbing.

The DOD noticed these numbers and called on the IOM to look over policies and programs the military has had in place to deal with substance abuse. The IOM and Dr. Charles P. O’Brien, chair of the committee that wrote the report, discovered that some of the previous policies were outdated. Addiction treatment today is more complicated since many soldiers are dependent on more than just one type of substance.

O’Brien and his committee found that the main challenges the military faces regarding addiction treatment are inadequate prevention strategies, treatment staffing shortages, lack of funding for evidence-based treatment services, and the stigma pushed on those who try to seek rehabilitative treatment. The IOM report highlights these concerns and implores the DOD to address each issue, install solutions, and start rehabilitating the men and women who bravely serve.


Solutions are Not Only Possible but Crucial for Improved Alcohol Drug Rehab Accessibility

Above all, the IOM report strongly recommends the DOD communicate to all service branches just how serious prevention of substance abuse within the military is. The report advises consistent adherence to evidence-based strategies for prevention, along with routine screening and treatment of substance abuse, thus increasing the quality of care provided to the afflicted.

Furthermore, the report recommends that TRICARE, the health program designed for uniformed services, be required to cover outpatient rehab. Currently, TRICARE does not cover several evidence-based therapies that are known as effective, standard practices. The IOM committee counsels that TRICARE’s benefits cover maintenance medications and treatment in outpatient situations to avoid treatment relapse.

The committee also encourages the DOD to enforce underage drinking regulations and restrict the amount of alcohol sold on bases. In order to see prevention, the military must cease treating alcohol consumption, even heavy consumption, as though it is just an inherent part of armed forces culture.

In addition, all military health care professionals should undergo enhanced training for substance abuse symptom identification. Equally important is ensuring that all military health care professionals stick to consistent guidelines when referring patients to proper specialists, including pain management and mental health care providers. Doing so will make preventive treatment more easily accessible to those who need it, reducing generalized, ineffective care.

If the DOD heeds the statistics and solutions outlined by the IOM report, real help could be provided at the first signs of addiction. Once the stigma surrounding “drug rehab” is lifted, hopefully military members who need help will feel safe enough to ask for it.

If you or someone you care about in the military is struggling with addiction, we can help.The road is long but, in time, treatment and prevention for many who struggle may become a reality, and not just a buried hope.

If you or someone you care about in the military is struggling with addiction, we can help. Call now for free, no-obligation advice about the best treatment centers.

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