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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

U.S. Army Soldiers With Alcohol Problems


High stress jobs have always been a contributing factor to the amount of alcohol consumed by employees. The military has always struggled with how to handle alcoholism both at home and in war zones. In 2009, over 9,000 soldiers got treatment for alcohol abuse, this treatment consisted of regular trips to a counselor; the number of soldiers needing assistance with their alcohol problems is up from 6,000 in 2003. Multiple tours in Iraqi combat zones have had a direct effect on the number of U.S. Army soldiers with alcohol problems; combat stress has caused the number of diagnosed alcohol problems to double since 2003.

The military offers soldiers the opportunity to seek help for their addictions, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. Soldiers who seek help will not have that information put into their permanent records which will keep their career intact. This is a pretty amazing thing, no longer will alcoholism be a cause for promotion denial; having notes of alcoholism in one's record use to keep soldiers from ever advancing career wise. Lots of soldiers discover they have an alcohol problem in the worst of environments; swift action to help these individuals is extremely necessary.

In the 1990's the Army banned the use of alcohol in combat zones; which resulted in fewer alcohol related disciplinary problems with soldiers overall. Unfortunately, those military units that were charged with going back into combat a second or third time found the stress too much to handle, alcohol was an easy solution. Drugs, for the most part, are easy to detect making them an unlikely choice amongst soldiers for stress relief. When soldiers get back from combat, they end up hitting the booze twice as hard as they did before being deployed.

It is great that the military offers some support for those struggling with alcohol. However, it does appear that they would rather sweep alcoholics under the rug than have their records and the military's record smeared. Just seeing a counselor once a week will hardly have any long term effect towards recovery.

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