Alcohol abuse is also very prevalent among the U.S. military personnel. In a recent study, 27% of the army soldiers, who returned from deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan within the last 3 to 4 months, met the criteria for alcohol abuse. They were also at increased risk of related harmful behaviors like drinking and driving and using illicit drugs. One of the major concerns in this area is that although soldiers frequently report alcohol and drug abuse concerns, only a few are referred to the Army Substance Abuse Program for help. According to the Army Vice Chief of Staff, General Peter Chiarelli, many soldiers who tested positive for substance abuse were not discharged because of the desire to keep as many soldiers in active duty as possible (More, 2009). Therefore, the current ‘soft attitude’ of the U.S. Army has to change and more stringent and aggressive policies have to be implemented in order to address the increasing rates of substance abuse among army personnel.
Military personnel are usually under a lot of pressure and stress which may cause them to be addicted to drugs or alcohol. The U.S. Army prescribes medications to soldiers to help them with stress release and anxiety (Winkel, 2009). They also prescribe medications to relieve them of physical pain or to keep them alert when circumstances require them to stay awake (Winkel, 2009). Although these medications may be necessary to keep the soldiers alert and able in times of war, continued use of these medications can cause the soldiers to get addicted to them. The addiction can be so strong that the soldiers may not be able to do without these prescription medications even after returning home.
Substance abuse has been found to be associated with mental health problems. In fact, 45% of the army personnel who attempted to commit suicide between 2005 and 2009 were found to have mental health concerns (National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2011. The suicide rates