It is sometimes difficult for veterans to overcome addiction. A new study is however showing the gains soldiers could benefit if they have specifically targeted interventions. About half the personnel of the US military are heavy drinkers, but most of them shun help for fear of being sanctioned.
According to Denise Walker, director of the Innovative Programs Research Group at the Washington School of Social Work, going for substance abuse treatment as a military officer catches the attention of your commanding officer who, puts the information on your medical and military record.
This of course is a serious problem that requires serious action if it has to be sorted. Some 242 military officers in Washington met the criteria for being considered alcoholics, but none of them were undergoing treatment. The participants had an initial phone interview to gauge their current consumption. They were then partitioned into two groups. One group received useful information on alcohol and drug abuse, while the other received hour-long personalized intervention sessions.
Intervention really connects the soldier’s behavior with his or her goals, values and wants. Walker noted that the intervention session is “a safe place to talk confidentially and freely with someone on the other end who is compassionate and non-judgmental.” A follow-up to this study was made three and six months later, and the results of the study are fascinating. There was a significant reduction in alcohol dependency in both groups.
Participants who received personalized interventions, however, showed a lower dependency rate. Their drinking rate dropped from 32 drinks per week to just 14, and their alcohol dependence rate dropped from 83 to 22 percent. Participants who had just information on alcoholism had their dependence 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.
Researchers say interventions are more successful because they are convenient and confidential.
Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?
One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.
But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.