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Active-Duty Military and Veterans Prone to Substance Abuse, Depression and Suicide

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Three new studies show active-duty military personnel and veterans are prone to substance abuse, depression and suicide.

One study of almost 600 veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan found 39 percent of veterans screened positive for probable alcohol abuse, 3 percent for probable drug use, and 14 percent for probable post-traumatic stress syndrome, HealthDay reports.

A second study, of 678,382 active personnel, found major depression and substance use disorders have increased. A third study found suicide rates for all U.S. military services rose between 2005 and 2007, particularly for members of the regular Army and National Guard.

“Our study provided valuable insight for the mental health readiness of the U.S. armed services and implications for potential, continued support of ongoing operations and their post-deployment health care needs,” the researchers said in a journal news release.

“Given the continuing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and other parts of the world, and the increasing trend in major mental health conditions reported in the U.S. military, it would be important for the Department of Defense to assess whether the current system has adequate resources and manpower to handle the increasing number of active duty personnel who need mental health services.”

The studies were published online in the American Journal of Public Health.

Alcohol abuse related to domestic violence is an increasing problem in the U.S. Army, according to a new study that also found the suicide rate among active-duty soldiers reached an all-time high last year. The Army study, “Generating Health and Discipline in the Force,” found alcohol abuse associated with domestic violence rose by 54 percent between 2006 and 2011. Research indicates that as many as 43 percent of active duty soldiers reported binge drinking within the past month, according to the report.

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