Substance abuse in the Navy

While the U.S. Navy isn’t the largest branch of the Armed Forces, it still plays a significant role in the fight to stop substance abuse and alcoholism in the military. It was the first branch to institute a zero-tolerance policy on illicit drugs. Unfortunately, this did not effectively end drug and alcohol abuse in the Navy. And for veterans, the problem is even bigger with illegal drug addiction and prescription drug addiction on the rise.

Transformations Mending Fences recognizes the unique difficulties faced by men and women in the Navy. Whether it’s cramped quarters, repeated deployments away from family, experiencing the tragedies of war, or any of the countless other stressors faced by Navy personnel, developing a drug or alcohol abuse problem is not a surprising outcome.

An understanding of the issue is important to see the warning signs and seek addiction treatment as soon as possible. Contact us immediately if you think you’re dealing with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders in any form.

Causes of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in the Navy

Serving in any branch of the military can create significant stressors on an individual. In many situations, these issues can lead to mental health problems that service members are afraid to seek help for. Unfortunately, a stigma exists within the Navy and other branches of the Armed Forces regarding mental illness. In many cases, this leads to self-medicating behavior.

The stressors that lead to these conditions are many. People often assume that only combat-hardened soldiers develop psychological issues, but this is far from the case. Deployment-related stressors (e.g., no privacy, trouble at home), prior traumatic exposures, combat exposure, physical injuries and military sexual trauma are just a few of the challenges Navy personnel experience.

Unfortunately, these and other events can lead to:

  • Trauma disorders
  • Anxiety and stress disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression and mood disorders
  • Difficulties coping or readjusting

Individuals in any of the Armed Forces may experience these stressors, but the Navy has additional difficulties to contend with. Many military members can bring their spouses and families with them when they deploy. This has shown to reduce instances of illicit substance abuse. This is true among Navy members as well, but even when stationed with their family, loved ones can’t come with them on ship deployments.

This partially explains why the rate of illicit drug use in the military — even with a zero-tolerance policy — remains around 12 percent. Additionally, nearly 70 percent of Navy personnel feel that military culture is supportive of drinking. The branch also has the second-highest rate in the Armed Forces of heavy, binge, hazardous and disordered drinking.

Discharge Isn’t a Cure

Substance abuse occurs during Navy service and beyond

Someone who joins the military never really leaves it behind. Members of the Navy typically walk away with incomparable physical fitness, invaluable skills and life lessons. Unfortunately, problems of addiction also come with them. While common co-occurring disorders can result in veterans dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues concurrently, this isn’t always how it works out.

For instance, a sailor could go their entire military career without developing a mental health condition. If they suffer a physical injury and end up hooked on pain pills, though, they will end up fighting many of the same battles as their fellow service members dealing with co-occurring disorders. This type of substance abuse lasts long after discharge.

The rate of reported severe pain is also 50 percent higher in veterans than in the general population. This partially explains why opioid deaths among vets have increased in recent years. Former service members are also more likely than their civilian counterparts to abuse alcohol, and considering the perceived acceptance of drinking in the Navy, this isn’t a major surprise.

Whether you’re a navy in active duty or a veteran dealing with addiction, Transformations Mending Fences is here to help. Contact us today to learn about our treatment offerings.

Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Control

Alcohol abuse program professional speak with an active duty Navy officer

When a person joins the Navy, they become part of a family. Ensuring the safety of your brothers and sisters in arms is paramount, and individuality can take a backseat for years. For treating alcohol and drug abuse in Navy personnel, though, it’s necessary to look at a person’s individual needs. This is the only way to create an effective treatment plan.

There are a variety of therapeutic approaches that can help individuals dealing with drug and alcohol abuse in the Navy. Transformations Mending Fences offers many of these therapies. We understand that what may work for one person might not work for another. Because of that, sailors seeking help can expect to find the following addiction and residential mental health treatment at our facilities:

  • Medical detoxification
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Anger management
  • Individual, group and family therapy
  • Help For Our Heroes program
  • Coping with sexual trauma
  • Veteran peer support groups
  • 12-step programs (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous)
  • Grief and loss counseling
  • Anxiety management
  • Equine-assisted therapy

This is merely the tip of the iceberg with treatments for alcoholism and substance abuse disorder.

The rates of illicit drug use, substance misuse and alcohol addiction in the Navy are distressing, but they should alert you that addiction isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s okay to seek help when you need it. In fact, there are few things in this world that require as much strength as overcoming addiction.

Addiction Transcends the Military

Unfortunately, it’s not only members of the Navy who deal with drug and alcohol abuse. Substance use disorders among Navy dependents have also increased in recent years and underage drinking from military children is also a rising problem. This can help you understand why we often refer to addiction as a family disease. Unfortunately, the stressors of life in the Navy do not confine themselves to a single service member.

Whether you’re a sailor or a dependent dealing with addiction — or just someone who wants to find help for their loved one — it’s important to reach out for help now. Alcohol and drug abuse in the Navy and among veterans creates significant risks ranging from suicidal ideation to overdose. Waiting to seek treatment is never the right way to achieve your goal.

Don’t Let Addiction Control Your Life

Medical professional and Navy officer discussing treatment options and healthy alternatives to substance abuse

Even within the Armed Forces, Navy personnel deal with stressors that are unique to their branch. Long deployments on naval ships take away time that would otherwise be spent on base with family. This combined with other difficulties creates a prime situation for addiction to take control. Fortunately, you don’t have to let drugs or alcohol win the battle.

Transformations Mending Fences has a certified staff of professionals committed to helping the individuals who answered the call to service. Our extensive treatment offerings ensure that every individual — regardless of their specific circumstances — will find something that can help them overcome substance abuse in all its forms.

Drug and alcohol abuse in the Navy might be a national problem, but it’s at the individual level where the genuine tragedy occurs. Contact us today to learn how we can help you take your life back from addiction.