WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Increased numbers of substance abuse in the U.S. military has led to the issue being classified as a “public health crisis,” according to a new study requested by the Department of Defense.
In a study from the Institute of Medicine released Monday, data indicates that almost half of military personnel participate in binge drinking and that one-fifth of active-duty troops have five or more drinks per day on a regular basis. The study goes on to state that the Pentagon’s methods for dealing with the epidemic are out of date and not suitable for solving the issue.
“Better care for service members and their families is hampered by inadequate prevention strategies, staffing shortages, lack of coverage for services that are proved to work, and stigma associated with these disorders,” Charles P. O’Brien of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Studies of Addiction, the chairman of the study committee, said in a statement.
O’Brien told The Associated Press that the military takes an “old-fashioned” approach in trying to cut down on substance abuse among active-duty troops. He said that the military is still reluctant to use modern-day medications that help treat potential addiction, update training to substance-abuse counselors and rely more on outpatient care that tends to recognize and respond to addiction signs.
And alcohol abuse isn’t the only thing that’s on the rise. In 2008, 11 percent of military personnel said they abused prescription drugs, up nine percentage points from the 2 percent of troops who admitted to doing so in 2002.
Defense officials are analyzing the report.
“We want to do the right thing for the service member,” spokeswoman Cynthia Smith told the AP. “If there are areas in need of improvement, then we will work to improve those areas.”