Drug abuse can have serious, negative effects on your health, performance, and ability to function well. Some Service Members use drugs to cope with mental, emotional, or physical problems that can accompany duty or deployment. Or they sometimes use illegal drugs (or even supplements) as a quick fix or to rapidly reach a goal. Unfortunately, these short-term solutions can lead to long-term problems. Still, it’s important to remember effective resources are out there if you need help.
Drug abuse includes the use of illegal or controlled substances (such as marijuana, cocaine, or heroin) and the misuse (non-medical use) of prescription drugs (such as opioids or stimulants). For many Service Members, physical pain is a daily reality that’s an all-too-common consequence of combat. A key driver of prescription drug misuse in military personnel is a lack of knowledge on how to effectively manage pain. For example, you might have been prescribed too many medications and not know who or what to ask when seeking help with pain management.
In fact, Service Members might start using certain drugs to increase performance, even though drug abuse will have the opposite effect. Maybe you know someone who used illegal or controlled substances to lessen fatigue or help cope with boredom or anxiety. In the short term, this can make a difference when it comes to doing your job and getting through your day. But in the long term, such drug use isn’t sustainable and can severely impact your health.
It can be hard to identify and treat substance use problems among Service Members because it’s so common. Some also might fear consequences, stigma, and even lack of confidentiality if they seek treatment. If you’re concerned about your own or someone else’s drug use, use the following resources to get information or seek help.
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is one of the largest sources of research on drug use and addiction. Visit the NIDA website to learn about commonly used substances, drug abuse, and how drug use affects your brain and body.
- Health.mil provides information, resources, and assessments to help promote wellness in the military community.
- Visit Health.mil’s Substance Abuse page for specific information on addiction, substances, and treatment.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) leads efforts to ensure Service Members and their families can access behavioral health treatment and services.
- The Department of Defense (DoD) Drug Demand Reduction Program has information on DoD policy about substance use. It also offers resources on drug testing and drug abuse prevention for Service Members.
- The U.S. Navy & Marine Corps Public Health Center explains branch policies and offers other useful resources on its Drug Abuse page.
- The National Center for Biotechnology Information explores drug abuse in “Understanding Substance Use Disorders in the Military.”