Military Combat Deployments and Substance Use: Review and Future Directions

J Soc Work Pract Addict. 2012;12(1):6-27. doi: 10.1080/1533256X.2012.647586. Epub 2012 Feb 22.


Iraq and Afghanistan veterans experience extreme stressors and injuries during deployments, witnessing and participating in traumatic events. The military has organized prevention and treatment programs as a result of increasing suicides and posttraumatic stress disorder among troops; however, there is limited research on how to intervene with alcohol misuse and drug use that accompany these problems. This review presents statistics about post-deployment substance use problems and comorbidities, and discusses the military's dual role in 1) enforcing troop readiness with its alcohol and drug policies and resiliency-building programs, and 2) seeking to provide treatment to troops with combat-acquired problems including substance abuse.