U.S. must combat drug, alcohol addiction in military, amon vets
The Kansas City Star
The U.S. military and Veterans Affairs should do all that they can to combat runaway alcohol and drug use among troops and their families.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that substance abuse in the military has become a “public health crisis.” About 20 percent of active duty service members reported heavy drinking in 2008, consisting of five or more drinks a day as a regular routine.
Binge drinking increased to 47 percent in 2008 from 35 percent in 1998. Misuse of prescription drugs also went from 2 percent in 2002 to 11 percent in 2008.
The lingering 11-year war in Afghanistan has likely contributed to the substance abuse as troops “self-medicate” to cope. But the alcohol and drug abuse also comes home to the states with the returning veterans, where families and communities have to contend with the problem.
The military needs to go all out to reduce the substance abuse problem. But the VA must get involved, too, to help returning veterans kick the habit so they can be productive citizens.