Easily forgotten are each of their families, who are subject to incredible strain while spouses and parents are deployed for months at a time.
We understand that families of active-duty servicemen and women experience much more uncertainty and instability than the general U.S. population. For this reason, Hope by the Sea specializes in comprehensive addiction treatment for military family members.
Substance Abuse in Military Personnel
Active military personnel experience countless stressful events in the line of duty. They can experience trauma while in combat, which can develop into a variety of mental health issues. Beyond the violence and bloodshed in the field, a variety of day-to-day stressors complicate the lives of soldiers. Being distant from friends and family, missing major events back home, feeling unsafe or threatened regularly, experiencing injuries or assaults, and witnessing troubling events all affect a person on a deep level.
It’s not uncommon for these men and women to respond to these factors by turning to alcohol. While its consumption is discouraged, some people choose to drink in groups to celebrate victories or for social morale building. Others drink alone to mask their trauma or may turn to other substances when they return home. As more of a substance is consumed more frequently, dependencies can develop. This can eventually escalate to addiction.
Military Families, Mental Health, and Substance Use
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.