The unsung heroes of military life are the spouses, children, and parents back home. They experience a great deal of strain and trauma themselves, which is often overlooked in the discussion of substance use with respect to this group. Husbands and wives will put their own careers on the backburner to accommodate for the nomadic lifestyle common to servicemen and women. Often, changes in assignment will uproot families and move them across the country to a new base. This dismantles the support networks that family members have created. When a soldier is deployed, it puts additional pressure on the spouse, as they now have sole responsibility for childcare and home maintenance. On top of these day-to-day logistical issues, family members experience distress and concern for their loved one who has been stationed overseas.
Studies have shown that military spouses are more likely to have a mental health diagnosis and use alcohol than the general population. Their children are more likely to binge drink, use marijuana, and abuse prescription medications than other teens. It’s vital that these family members gain access to high quality addiction treatment services.