Understanding Addiction in the Military

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Understanding Addiction in the Military

Serving in the military can mean high levels of stress, pain, exertion, trauma, and despair. Many veterans that see combat come home to the United States with Post Dramatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. It is understandable that personnel serving in the military not only turn to street drugs and abuse alcohol to deal with their enduring guilt and suffering, but get addicted to their prescribed medications as well.

Like any drug addiction, these cases are detrimental to the veteran’s health and relationships. Therefore, it is imperative that the veteran receive help immediately while their intake of powerful prescriptions like OxyContin and Methadone should be monitored. Though the rate of addicted veterans (2.3 percent according to the Department of Defense) is dwarfed by the number of civilian addicts (12 percent according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse), facilitating veterans mental and physical health need to be taken care of more diligently. Alcohol addiction within the veteran community is, however, more striking. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 47 percent of veterans reported binge drinking in the year 2008.

Despite the low percentage of documented drug-addicted veterans, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that one in four military personnel will return home with some form of mental illness. Considering we have been at war in these countries for nearly fifteen years, the rate of addicted service members addicted to both street and prescription drugs is likely to increase.

These facts may be dismaying, but with adequate help and information, there is no reason every veteran that suffers from an addiction should be turned a blind eye. The United States Department of Veteran’s affairs writes on their website that a veteran “will not be responsible to pay any unpaid balance that your [their] third party health insurance carrier does not cover.” In addition, Medicaid is offered to veterans returning to the States and many drug addiction programs and drug rehab centers will take it as insurance if the addicted veteran has no other way of paying for their drug recovery treatment. However, a veteran that does not the insurance to cover the types of costs that go along with getting treated for prescription drug abuse as well street drug addiction may have to pay an outpatient copay for assistance during the detox period.

Though the money needed for a recovery center may seem out of reach, the vast majority of treatment programs and rehab facilities will accommodate a veteran’s situation, or at least point them in the direction of someone who can.

Those who do not reach out a hand to be guided through the difficult but achievable process of detox and sobriety often up in jail, living on the street, and in the worst cases, dead. From 2005 to 2009, 29 percent of suicide cases within active Army personnel had to do with drugs and alcohol abuse. Meanwhile, another third of suicides concerned prescription pills. With the help of trained drug rehabilitation centers and esteemed treatment facilities, veterans can get the help they need.

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