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Extra Steps Urged to Cut Alcohol, Drug Use in Military: Report
Date:9/17/2012

artment already has a Clinical Practice Guideline for Management of Substance Use Disorders, which the authors of the report say is an excellent resource, it is not consistently followed, they noted.

In addition, TRICARE -- which provides health insurance to military members and their families -- does not cover several proven substance abuse treatments that are now standard practice. The coverage only provides treatment in specialized rehabilitation facilities, and doesn't cover long-term use of certain medications currently used for the treatment of addiction, according to the IOM report.

The report suggested that TRICARE's benefits should be changed to cover medications and treatments offered by health-care providers in office-based outpatient settings, which will allow patients to receive ongoing care that could help them avoid substance abuse relapses.

Among the other recommendations in the report:

  • Better enforcement of regulations on underage drinking among members of the armed forces, plus a reduction in access to alcohol on bases, such as limiting the number of places to buy alcohol and fewer hours of operation.
  • Military personnel should be screened by primary care providers for excessive alcohol consumption and should be offered brief counseling when screening identifies risky drinking behavior.
  • The stigma associated with seeking substance abuse treatment could be reduced by making screening and intervention services part of primary care.
  • Military health care personnel should be trained to recognize patterns of substance abuse and misuse, and need clear guidelines for referring patients to specialists such as pain management and mental health experts.

Because post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and suicidal thoughts often go hand-in-hand with drug and alcohol misuse, greater access to screening and treatment of substance abuse disorders could improve detection and care for these relat
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