Tag Archives: Drug Use

Tag Archives: Drug Use


Abusing Substances in the Armed Forces

Members of the U.S. military are not immune to the substance use problems that affect society at large. With one notable exception, drug and alcohol use patterns mimic or are higher among military personnel than among civilians.

For example, the rate of illicit drug use is lower among military personnel than it is among civilians. However, the rates of prescription drug abuse, as well as heavy tobacco and alcohol use, are much higher and on the rise.

According to the 2008 Department of Defense Survey of Health Related Behaviors, among active-duty personnel, only 2.3% of troops had used an illicit drug in the past month, compared to 12% of civilians.

Despite the relatively low rate of illicit drug use, abuse of prescription drugs was found to be higher among service members than among civilians and on the rise. In 2008, 11% of troops reported abusing prescription drugs, which was up from 2% in 2002 and 4% in 2005. The majority of misused prescription drugs were opioid pain relievers. Prescriptions for pain relievers for troops quadrupled between 2001 and 2009, to nearly 4 million. Much of the increase was likely due to combat-related injuries and the stress of carrying heavy equipment during multiple deployments.

What is behind these patterns of substance abuse? 

Experts believe that the unique culture of the military, as well as the potential stress of deployment during wartime, are behind some of the variations. As an example, the lack of confidentiality deters many of those who need treatment from seeking it. Additionally, perceived stigma and zero-tolerance policies make it difficult to identify and treat substance use problems of active-duty military personnel.

Among the troops, multiple deployments and combat exposure are the greatest risk factors for developing substance use issues. These individuals are more likely to have greater prescribed use of behavioral health medications and to engage in heavy weekly drinking and binge drinking. They are also more likely to experience drug and alcohol-related problems and to begin smoking or relapse after quitting smoking.

The zero-tolerance policy for drug use among military personnel is believed to be a major reason behind the consistently low illicit drug use rate recorded for the past several decades. The policy was implemented in 1982 and is enforced by frequent random drug testing. If military members test positive for illicit drug use they face criminal prosecution and/or dishonorable discharge.

Stateside Aftershocks

Even after discharge, returning veterans may carry the physical, emotional and psychological wounds from their military experience back home and into their civilian lives. One study found that 25% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans reported symptoms of a mental disorder after returning home. Additionally, one in six of these veterans reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Disorders such as these are strongly linked to substance abuse and dependence, traumatic brain injury,  sleep disturbances and violence in relationships among returning military personnel.

Among veterans, young adults are particularly at risk for developing substance use disorders and mental health issues. One study conducted in 2004-2006 with veterans found that 25% of 18- to 25-year-olds met the criteria for substance use disorder; this is more than twice the rate of veterans aged 26-54 and five times the rate seen in veterans 55 and older.

Historically, suicide rates among military members were lower than among civilians within the same age range. However, in 2004 the trend began to turn, and the suicide rate among personnel in the U.S. Army began to climb; this rate surpassed the civilian rate in 2008.

Experts recognize that substance abuse is involved in many military personnel suicides. In 2010 a report by the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force revealed that nearly one in three active-duty Army suicides from 2005 to 2009 involved alcohol or drug use. The report showed that in 2009, prescription drugs were involved in almost one-third of military suicides.

Along with substance use disorder, alcohol use is also higher among troops versus civilians. Nearly 50% of active-duty personnel reported binge drinking in 2008, compared to a 35% rate reported in 1998. In 2008, one in five military personnel reported binge drinking every week within the past month. This rate was considerably higher (nearly one in three), among those with high combat exposure.

Statistics show that in 2008, 30% of all military troops smoked cigarettes, which was comparable to the 29% rate for civilians. However, as was evidenced by alcohol use, smoking rates were significantly higher among those personnel who had been in combat.

Based on these concerning statistics a report issued by the Institute of Medicine recommended ways to address the substance use problem in the military. The 2012 report was prepared for the Department of Defense and recommended increasing the use of evidence-based treatment and prevention strategies as well as providing greater access to health care.

The report also recommended widening insurance coverage to include efficacious outpatient treatments and better training for healthcare providers in order to recognize and screen for substance use problems, as well as limiting access to alcohol on military bases.

Increased confidentiality is necessary in order to successfully address substance misuse in the military, according to the study, as is changing a cultural climate in which substance abuse problems are reacted to with stigmatization.

Curbing Prescription Drug Abuse

For example, the Army has undertaken changes that include limiting a prescription for opioids to 6 months and having a pharmacist monitor medication use when multiple prescriptions are being used.

Recovery is possible—recover your unique, purposeful, sober life by reaching out to the dedicated experts at Cumberland Heights.

Addiction is a chronic, progressive and potentially fatal disease. For over 50 years we have carefully provided the highest quality of care for adults, adolescents and families who suffer from, or are affected by this devastating disease.

Our nonprofit alcohol and drug addiction treatment center is located on a peaceful, pastoral 177-acre campus on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. We provide a continuum of services through two 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes.

At Cumberland Heights, we always put the patient first, and value the importance of family participation in the recovery process. Take the first step toward healing by calling us at (866) 899-5231 today.

How families can seek treatment when battling drug use and peer pressure

Families are at a high-time for battling drug abuse and peer pressure; with accessibility to prescription medications and illicit drugs on the streets, adolescents and family members as a whole are threatened with serious health risks and related concerns. Loved ones often experience a feeling of compromise when they bend a little to appease to friends and family – when asked for substances, family members may lean towards saying, “yes” because they don’t want to appear disagreeable or may otherwise attempt to keep peace in the family.

A publication by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains that a number of factors can take place within families, which makes them more susceptible for drug abuse and/or peer pressure:

  • Feeling abandonment, anxiety, fear, anger, etc.
  • Being asked to take on additional responsibilities can add pressure to family members
  • Inconsistency in the family dynamic may make it easier for family members to use substances
  • Denial that a family member is struggling with substances may only perpetuate the problem

Make zero-tolerance for substance abuse a strict value in your family.

HealthyChildren.org notes that it all starts with parents – preventative talks can help children in the family understand the dangerousness of abusing substances and explaining clear rules against drug use can help as well. Maintain open communication as much as possible and foster a healthy family dynamic. If family members feel their voice is heard, they’ll be less likely to turn to substances.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that certain parenting skills – such as listening, following up with family members in the household, and holding one another accountable can greatly help maintain stability at home. If you’ve been battling substance abuse, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today – it’s never too late to take back control of your life.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of two 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers, and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first. For more information, call 1-800-646-9998 today.

The side effects that come with addiction and crystal methThere are major concerns about the use of crystal methamphetamine; the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) a stimulant drug, crystal meth can lead to a person experiencing severe mood swings, tremors or convulsions, hypothermia, significant weight loss and more. “Tweaking” is a term used when the drug is no longer producing a “high” effect. A person going through this stage may experience intense cravings and urges to use the substance – and psychotic symptoms, like paranoia, can really place a person in danger.

Ice psychosis is the term used to describe this intense paranoia that can occur from crystal meth. The Conversation, a website that provides information on culture, health and medicine, politics and society, and more, defines ice psychosis as,

“…Suspiciousness and paranoia, hallucinations, and unusual or agitated behavior. Individuals often lose touch with reality, and may not have an understanding of what is happening to them.”

A 2019 study published in the journal Clinical Psychology Review emphasizes that throughout ice psychosis, negative voices can occur which make a person prone to experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Hypervigilance
  • Shame and Self-blame
  • Dissociation
  • Trouble processing emotions

Researchers have pondered how some individuals experience ice psychosis and others don’t; in 2018, researchers found that the occurrence of ice psychosis is related to the frequency of methamphetamine use and the severity of the dependence.  If you have a loved one who has struggled with crystal methamphetamine dependency, ice psychosis could be a very real concern – and the best way for your loved one to recover from this is to seek help.

Psychological interventions are often what’s needed, and recovery may include detoxification along with individual and group support, medical assistance, nutritional guidance and more. 12-Step programs have been shown to provide those in addiction recovery with a valuable support network along with structure to develop healthier ways of living. Don’t wait any longer to seek the help that you or your loved one needs – you’re not alone, and there are effective ways to help a person regain stability after ice psychosis.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Physical signs of methamphetamineAs the New York Times stated in February of 2018, methamphetamine may have taken a brief halt after Congress passed the Combat Methamphetamine Act back in 2005, but cartels have found a way to create a “new” methamphetamine that is pure and very low-cost. Steven Bell, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), stated,

“…They have perfected the production and manufacturing of methamphetamine…They have figured out the chemical reactions to get the best bang for their bucks.”

Methamphetamine addiction can cause a lot of physical harm to the body. One of the most commonly mentioned consequences of meth use is the damage it can cause to a person’s oral health. A 2016 study published in the journal BMC Oral Health sought to explore just how prevalent oral health concerns are among those with methamphetamine addiction. After assessing 100 individuals with the addiction, researchers compared their oral health to 100 other individuals without addiction. This is what they found:

  • 72% of individuals with meth addiction reported dry mouth
  • 68% of these individuals reported jaw clenching
  • 47% reported pain in the temporomandibular joint (two joints that connect the jawbone to the skull)

Dental erosions may also occur and many of these oral health concerns are what is called “meth mouth” by many. There are more concerns that oral health, however. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states, chronic methamphetamine use can lead to significant weight loss as well as skin sores from itching – which often stem from the paranoia of meth that causes many people to think insects are “crawling” under the skin.

Some of the effects from methamphetamine addiction may become permanent, while others may have the ability to health and improve over time. Recovery is a lifelong process, but the sooner you or a loved one seeks help, the greater the chances of healing those physical, mental and spiritual wounds that addiction brings on.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.


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