Substance abuse, from my foxhole

By U.S. ArmyDecember 18, 2014

Army Substance Abuse Program
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What is Substance Abuse? Generally, it can be defined as overindulgence in or dependence on an addictive substance such as alcohol or drugs. However, it is important to note that alcohol and drugs are not the only substances prohibited by the Armed Forces. Mood altering matter such as inhalants, solvents, caffeine, tobacco, nearly any substance can be abused. We all know abuse is a harmful usage pattern of any mood altering substance which can be directly or indirectly linked to frequent and serious problems. Unfortunately, these problems negatively impact individual and group performances at school, work, and/or home. Due to the serious impacts of their actions, many substance abusers have trouble with the law or authority figures.

Members of the Armed Forces are not immune to the substance use problems that are prevalent in our society. While illicit drug use is lower among U.S. military personnel than among civilians, heavy alcohol use, tobacco, and especially prescription drug abuse are much more prevalent and on the rise among all of the armed services. Some abuse can be attributed to the stresses of deployments, direct and indirect combat, and ineffective leadership. The unique culture and high stress environment of the military that we experience also contributes to this trend. Leaders find it difficult to identify and treat substance abuse within their ranks due to zero-tolerance, shame, and lack of established unit policies. Soldiers tend to avoid seeking treatment and help, due to the lack of confidentiality others have experienced in the past. Now more than ever, involved leaders, co-workers, friends, and Soldiers must take a stand to help change our culture, and spread the word about the Army's new efforts to help all Soldier and their families.

We must fervently identify those at greatest risk of developing substance abuse problems and provide the help that they desperately need. Tolerating or knowing your battle-buddy has an issue but doing nothing about it, is no longer acceptable. By using assertive tact and words of conviction and care when engaging our teammates, we can guide the afflicted Soldier to enter the Army Substance Abuse Program.

Our ASAP is an outstanding solution to help combat substance abuse on many levels. The goal is to strengthen the overall fitness and effectiveness of the Army's workforce, to conserve manpower and enhance combat readiness of Soldiers.

To understand more on how to help our Soldiers, friends, and families, visit the website,

This resource and devoted teams of caring Soldiers at the Army and unit levels are dedicated to combat this widely misunderstood problem.