What Are the Most Common Addictions Found in the Military?

What Are the Most Common Addictions Found in the Military?

Men and women fighting for our country witness numerous traumatic events on a daily basis. Witnessing death, causing death, fearing death and physical and mental exertion place stress on someone serving in the military. The stress can become so overwhelming that he or she may turn to drugs to help cope.

Drugs Abused by Military Personnel

The following are some of the drugs that military personnel may turn to for escape, recreation or coping:

  • Vicodin. Vicodin is a narcotic pain reliever usually prescribed to patients suffering from physical pain. Many men and women who return home from war have experienced an injury that can require a stronger pain reliever than an over the counter one. Many doctors prescribe Vicodin to these soldiers, and they have great potential to abuse it because of its numbing effects on both the body and mind.
  • OxyContin. OxyContin is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. It is a highly addictive drug, as it is an opiate. Dopamine releases feelings of euphoria in the brain, and these feelings can mask emotions related to trauma.
  • Xanax. Xanax is used to treat those suffering from panic and anxiety disorders. This is a commonly prescribed drug for men and women returning from war, as their past experiences can cause present anxiety and fear. Xanax is an addictive drug, and misuse can lead to a combination of anxiety and addiction problems.

Causes of Addiction among Military Personnel

Addiction involves a variety of factors such as genetics, environment and social situations. Soldiers who struggle with addiction were at increased risk for this disease due to their environment and situation. Other reasons why our service men and women struggle with addiction include the following:

  • Loss. The chances of a soldier losing a loved one while overseas is high. Alcohol or drugs may seem like a way to cope with emotions, but they will not solve any problems or help soldiers address a loss.
  • Daily trauma. Every day a soldier faces life or death situations. They witness horrible acts of violence, and often have to commit acts of violence to protect themselves and their fellow soldiers. Feeling responsible for the death or injury of an opponent or a teammate is traumatic.
  • Fear. The fear of personal harm can lead to anxiety and panic issues. Drug use can seem like an easy way out from these overwhelming emotions, but the underlying issues will remain and grow worse unless addressed by recovering professionals.

Men and women returning home from war or currently serving in the armed forces have struggles with addiction due to their circumstances and situations. The best way to help yourself or a loved one is to meet with recovery professionals who can address the addiction issues and mental health concerns present in your life.