It might be difficult for those in the military to relate to living entirely sober. The truth is the military and the use of drugs and alcohol have had a long relationship together that extend into history.
For instance, the United States military has been historically related to the use of alcohol and drugs since prior to the 1830’s. In order to help reduce the impact of war, soldiers were given rum in daily rations and free cigarettes during World War I and II. They were also given powerful narcotics during the Vietnam War to help reduce the psychological effects they might have had after seeing death on the battlefield.
Furthermore, the motion picture industry has historically portrayed the military in films engaging in the consumption of cigarettes, alcohol, and occasionally drugs. In this way, the military and the use of drugs and alcohol have widely been accepted in the American culture. For instance, the movie Forrest Gump includes a veteran of the Vietnam War who is often drunk and angry.
There’s no question that there is an accepted belief that the military can drink or use drugs because of the experiences that they’ve endured. Yet, this belief and accepted practice can become an obstacle for some military men and women. When veterans of war or other military personnel are ready to find sober help and stop drinking, this might become an obstacle to overcome.
In fact, over the years, experts have found that substance abuse and addiction have been a concern in military performance. In fact, research indicates that substance dependence demonstrated associations with an increased possibility of psychological disorders, such as depressive or anxiety disorders. Substance abuse and mood disorders (depression, anxiety, and bipolar) were among the conditions identified that significantly affected military personnel after war.
Research also found that alcohol disorders were, by far, the most common mental disorders reported as a primary diagnosis. For this reason, the United States Veterans Administration (VA) has offered substance abuse classes as a way to provide sober help for its veterans. The VA is also known to provide personal individual therapy as a way to help prevent and treat substance and/or alcohol dependence.
Sadly, research has found that an obstacle for the military in seeking sober living treatment is the stigma it possesses. Although many veterans might take part in seeking sober help and participate in rehabilitation from drug use, they may not complete their treatment or endure relapse due to the stigma of receiving such services.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are an estimated 23.4 million veterans in the United States, and about 2.2 million military service members and 3.1 million immediate family members. Between 2004 and 2006, 7.1% of U.S. veterans met the criteria for a substance use disorder.
Furthermore, SAMHSA reports that there is a relationship between the demanding environments of military life and psychological distress. This distress can be further complicated by substance and/or alcohol use. For instance, many military members face significant issues such as trauma, suicide, homelessness, and involvement in crime. Sadly, approximately 18.5% of service members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression, and 19.5% report experiencing a traumatic brain injury (TBI) during deployment. Along these lines, SAMHSA reported that the Army suicide rate reached an all-time high in 2012.
Obtaining sober help for military men and women might first require breaking through the stigma that mental health services bring. This may be difficult because courage, strength, and endurance are instilled into men and women during basic training. In a way, accepting psychological services is like admitting a weakness.
However, if you are struggling with an addiction and you are a veteran of war, asking for sober help is truly the most courageous step you can take.
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