Report Faults Military’s Strategies on Drug and Alcohol Abuse
by James Dao
New York Times, Sept. 17, 2012
Despite a well-documented increase in the abuse of alcohol and prescription medications among military personnel over the past decade, the Defense Department’s strategies for screening, treating and preventing those problems remains behind the times, a major new report finds.
“Better care for service members and their families is hampered by inadequate prevention strategies, staffing shortages, lack of coverage for services that are proved to work, and stigma associated with these disorders,” said Charles P. O’Brien, chairman of the panel that wrote the report and the director of the Center for Studies of Addiction at the University of Pennsylvania.
The report by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, asserts that heavy drinking “is an accepted custom” within the military that needs to be regulated more carefully, recommending routine screening for excessive alcohol use.
About 20 percent of active-duty military personnel reported heavy drinking in 2008, the latest year for which data were available, and reports of binge drinking increased to 47 percent in 2008, from 35 percent in 1998, according to the report.
The report noted that while rates of illicit and prescription drug abuse are relatively low, the rate of medication misuse — particularly of opioid pain killers — has risen sharply: 11 percent of active-duty personnel reported misusing prescription drugs in 2008, up from 2 percent in 2002.
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Filed under: Resources | Tagged: Camp Pendleton San Diego, Center for Studies of Addiction University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Richard A. Friedman, Drug and Alcohol abuse in the military, Institute of Medicine National Academy of Sciences, Marine Corps, PTSD, Substance Use Disorders in the U.S. Armed Forces, Suicide prevention, Veterans Affairs |