Military not doing enough to help soldiers with substance abuse, study finds

September 17, 2012|By Andrea K. Walker

Substance abuse among America's soldiers is increasing and the Department of Defense isn't doing enough to address the problem, according to a new report.

The report released today by the Institute of Medicine found that the military health system TRICARE doesn't cover the best treatments for alcohol and drug abuse. The system also does not permit long-term use of certain medications to treat addiction and requires treatment in a specialized rehab center.

The report, conducted at the request of Congress, calls for updating TRICARE coverage, including allowing for outpatient treatment.

Congress asked for a review because of the rising rate of prescription drug abuse among the military ranks.

About 20 percent of active duty soliders said they engaged in heavy drinking in 2008, the latest year for which data are available, according to the report. Binge drinking increased from 35 percent in 1998 to 47 percent in 2008.

The rate of medication misuse is also increasing. Two percent of active duty personnel reported misusing prescription drugs in 2002 compared with 11 percent in 2008.  

 

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