Yet, drinking isn’t the only factor to take into account when talking about a Veteran of Active Duty’s potentially damaged psyche. While the military has a staunch zero-tolerance policy on drug use for illicit substances, some service members have found a way around this in the way of prescription drug abuse. As noted by the American Addiction Centers “The majority of the abused prescription drugs are opioids, which may be prescribed for injuries resulting from combat or pain from carrying heavy equipment. In just 8 years between 2001 and 2009, the number of painkiller prescriptions written by military doctors quadrupled.” (2)
And to top it all off, some studies have found that anywhere from 11% to 20% of veterans and service members have PTS. It is estimated that 1 out of 3 veterans with PTS also has a substance use disorder. While there isn’t one solid reason that someone may drink and/or use drugs there are numerous risk factors that may make substance abuse more likely and hinder a worsening diagnosis, such as: unusual work stress from lengthy deployments, psychological distress from service and combat and the general normalcy that “military culture” makes of the uses of these substances. These uses can take a toll on not just the Mental Health of these individuals, but their physical well being by increasing the risk of physical injury by either self infliction, misusage or even unawareness. (3, 4, 5)
We have to advocate for Veterans and Active Duty’s mental health first and foremost by providing them with adequate resources and support to help make them feel at home again on American soil.
To find out how you can help please visit: https://www.ptsd.va.gov or https://americanaddictioncenters.org
The Law Office of Richard Pena is a Vietnam Veteran-founded Law Firm.