People in the military use and abuse drugs and alcohol for the same reasons that other people do: Drugs and alcohol can make you feel good. But the military lifestyle also may include other issues that can affect alcohol and drug abuse, such as:
People in the military use the same drugs as people who are not in the armed services. These drugs include alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, inhalants, and methamphetamine. The rate of binge drinking, which is having 5 or more drinks at one time at least once a month, is high. About 47%, or nearly one-half, of those in the military binge drink.1 This is similar to how much college students in the United States binge drink.
Drug and alcohol abuse is a concern in the military for the same reasons it's a concern in the civilian population. It can harm judgment, decision-making, problem-solving, learning, and memory. It can lead to health problems and harm you and your loved ones. It can result in legal and money problems.
In the military, substance abuse also may:
Substance abuse also affects everyone in your unit. Your supervisor and others may be taken away from other duties to help you. Others may have to cover for you, which can detract from their military readiness.
Your behavior can make a difference in how well your unit deals with readiness, logistics, and training. Substance abuse can put your life and others' lives at risk.
All branches of the military have substance abuse programs. They provide drug information, treatment, testing, and prevention. Active-duty members of the military may enter a program in five ways:
Veterans also may struggle with substance abuse. They may have started using drugs or alcohol in the service or developed a problem later in life. Substance abuse problems in veterans also may be linked with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The Veterans Administration can help you. Contact your local facility.
Last Revised: January 18, 2012
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