Soldiers and veterans are particularly vulnerable to addiction. The nature of their work and responsibilities make it very likely for them to become drug and alcohol addicts. Soldiers generally face rough conditions as they execute their activities, and this can lead to many of them seeking refuge in drinking and smoking.
A recent study shows that about half of all military men in the United States drink heavily. Most of them, unfortunately, reject getting help from the problem. Quite often, they shun treatment centers because they risk being sanctioned if caught.
Denise Walker is the director of the Innovative Programs Research Group at the Washington School of Social Work. According to him, when soldiers are caught by their commanding officer seeking treatment for substance abuse, it gets to their medical and military record. Apparently, that is not welcoming news for anyone in the military who wishes to progress in their career.
In one study, some 242 military alcoholic officers none of whom was undergoing treatment were divided in two groups. One group received general information on alcohol and drug abuse, while the other received hour-long personalized intervention sessions.
The results of the study are quite interesting; compared to the soldiers who received general information; personalized interventions seemed to really place soldiers in line with their behavior, goals, values and wants. As Walker notes, intervention sessions are kind of “a safe place to talk confidentially and freely with someone on the other end who is compassionate and non-judgmental.”
Three and six months after this initial study, follow-up studies showed a significant reduction in alcohol dependency in both groups. In soldiers who received personalized interventions however, a lower dependency rate was observed. Their drinking rate dropped from 32 drinks per week to just 14, and their alcohol dependency rate dropped from 83 to 22 percent. Participants who barely received information on alcoholism had their dependency drop from 83 to 35 percent.
In both groups, participants increasingly made a move to get treatment. Close to a third of participants in both groups had either discussed the worry with their chaplain or made an appointment to receive treatment. Those who went through specialized interventions got more rapid in their efforts to solve the problem compared to those who barely received information.
All these go to prove that for fear of being reprimanded, soldiers and veterans prefer to skip addiction treatment. Researchers note that personalized interventions are more successful, because they are convenient and confidential.