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Alcohol And Drug Abuse In Military A Growing Problem

The abuse of alcohol and drugs by members of the U.S. military has become a growing problem, according to a new report by the Institute of Medicine.

The study found one in five active-duty troops admitted to drinking heavily, and the percentage of binge drinkers in the military grew from 35 percent in 1998 to 47 percent in 2008. At least 11 percent of active-duty military reported "misusing" prescription drugs in 2008, up from two percent in 2002. (2008 was the latest year data was available.)

Dr. Charles P. O'Brien, chair of the committee that wrote the report, said the U.S. military is facing many challenges to dealing with substance abuse within its ranks:

"Better care for service members and their families is hampered by inadequate prevention strategies, staffing shortages, lack of coverage for services that are proved to work, and stigma associated with these disorders. This report recommends solutions to address each of these concerns."

Those recommended solutions include cracking down on underage drinking, requiring TRICARE to cover outpatient rehab, and training military health care providers to recognize the signs of substance abuse.