Veterans and Drug Abuse

Often with Veteran’s Day in November, our thoughts are turned to those valiant man and women who have served our country. These brave individuals have trained, sacrificed, endured and fought for us to maintain the freedoms we enjoy. In reflecting upon these great individuals, its tragic to note how many of them return from service and struggle with drug abuse. In fact, studies show that veterans who served between 2001 and later are struggling the most. Many of us might think that drug abuse is mostly associated with veterans who served in Vietnam due to the wide publication and hollywood enamor with that era. However, the percentage of veterans who have a drug abuse problem that served from 2001 to now is more than twice that of those serving in Vietnam.

A recent survey published by the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Health Service Association) provided the following useful chart below:

1 IN 15 VETERANS HAD A SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER IN THE PAST YEAR

(https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_1969/Spotlight-1969.html)

Serving in the military can be very demanding and perhaps this, combined with the trauma of combat, is why veterans struggle with drug abuse. The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicated that a large number- 1.5 million- of veterans aged 17 and older has a drug abuse problem within the last year.

Clearly, more measures to help veterans with drug abuse problems need to be enacted. The website http://www.samhsa.gov/veterans-military-families has many resources available. Awareness of family members and friends of veterans who fight drug abuse can also help to get these brave individuals the help they need and deserve.

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