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The Growing Issue of Substance Abuse in the Army - Research Paper Example

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The Growing Issue of Substance Abuse in the Army

In fact, prescription drug abuse among U.S. military personnel was found to have doubled from 2002 to 2005 and has almost tripled between 2005 and 2008 (National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2011). 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. Substance Abuse Associated With Mental Health Problems 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 among active duty soldiers, Army Reserve and Army National Guards increased from 67 in 2004 to about 140 in 2008 (Kuehn, 2009). In January 2009, the number of soldiers who committed suicide was more than the number of soldiers killed in combat (More, 2009). These statistics highlight the fact that soldiers dealing with the issue of substance abuse are usually at risk of experiencing mental health challenges. Researchers have identified several factors that may be responsible for frustration among army soldiers. One of the primary factors associated with frustration among the soldiers is the long hours of duty when they are in a war situation, which can cause the soldiers to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety (Winkel, 2009). Again, deployment after shorter periods, requiring soldiers to serve more than one tours in combat can cause them to have significant stress and frustration (Winkel, 2009). Other stress factors include stressful and uncomfortable conditions of living, lack of adequate sleep, being away from family and the long duration of war (More, 2009). Due to the volatile nature of war, many soldiers are sent back to the war zone even before they are given the much needed help to overcome substance abuse. ...Show more
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The Growing Issue of Substance Abuse in the Army Student’s First name, Middle initial and Last name Name of University Prof. First and Last name of lecturer November 12, 2011 The Growing Issue of Substance Abuse in the Army Substance abuse among soldiers in the U.S…
The Growing Issue of Substance Abuse in the Army
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