Washington, Sep 18: Substance abuse among U.S. troops has become a “public health crisis” and methods adopted by the Pentagon to deal with it are outdated, a new study has said.
The study by the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, says that about 20 percent of active duty service members reported they drank heavily in 2008, the last year for which data is available.
Abusing alcohol and drugs has been part of military culture historically, who do it for fun, to ease the stresses of war or to be part of the brotherhood.
“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 of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Studies of Addiction, the chairman of the study committee.
The study also found that binge-drinking among the troops rose to 47 percent in 2008 from 35 percent in 1998, Fox News reports.
While rates of both illicit and prescription drug abuse are low, the rate of medication misuse is rising. Just 2 percent of active-duty personnel reported misusing prescription drugs in 2002 compared with 11 percent in 2008.
The research cited that new methods are needed to help troops, which include better-trained counselors and more outpatient care as opposed to relying so heavily on hospitalizations and residential programs. (ANI)