Drug abuse is on the rise among military personnel. In a 2011-12 military statistics report, the US Army investigated 56 soldiers on suspicion of using or distributing heroin, and they found that the number of soldiers who used heroin grew from 10 cases in 2002 to 116 in 2010.
The dramatic increase in military drug abuse has also lead to a number of overdoses and eight overdose fatalities from heroin, oxycodone and morphine. Heroin is a major drug of concern for soldiers in Afghanistan because of the readily available opium. Soldiers are also taking more of other drugs, including opiates, cocaine, marijuana and alcohol.
Why Is Overdose a Problem in the Military?
There are many reasons why drug abuse and overdose has become such a problem in the U.S. military. Many soldiers self-medicate physical injuries and emotional pain because they have easy access to drugs. Soldiers experience many problems that are difficult to cope with, from high levels of stress, emotional strife, homesickness or boredom.
In response, they may abuse drugs for pleasure or to numb emotional pain. A major cause of drug overdose is when soldiers use drugs recreationally and mix them with other substances like alcohol. Combining drugs with alcohol or other drugs is incredibly dangerous and significantly increases the odds of overdose.
The effects of military combat can foster a series of mental health or mood disorders such as PTSD, depression, anxiety disorder and more. For soldiers, the symptoms of these disorders can interfere with job performance, physical health and overall wellbeing. As a result a soldier may abuse drugs to prevent compromising her position because she is mentally unstable. Military exposure already poses many life-threatening risks of its own. Drug abuse only increases these risks and puts the soldier, her comrades and the general public safety on the line.
Recovering from Drug Overdose
A drug overdose does not have to be fatal, but unfortunately there is no way to predict if someone will survive. Always seek emergency medical attention as soon as possible during an overdose. An overdose serves as a warning sign that an individual has a drug abuse problem and needs professional help. Soldiers have access to rehab programs on active duty, but many refrain from help because they deny their problem or fear receiving a dishonorable discharge.
The realty is that any soldier struggling with drug abuse puts himself and his fellow soldiers in harm’s way. By seeking drug abuse help, soldiers can save themselves the many devastating effects of drug abuse, as well as the black mark of a dishonorable discharge. Rehab programs for soldiers also treat underlying issues such as PTSD, anxiety disorders, depression, chronic pain and more.