Like civilians, members of the armed forces sometimes get caught up in the use of illegal drugs or the abuse of prescription drugs. This can lead to arrests, legal charges and the end of a promising career.
Why does it happen? There are a few common risk factors that servicemembers can watch out for, including:
- Those who were exposed to combat and seen active duty on any front.
- Those who suffered injuries in the line of duty.
- Those who served on multiple deployments over the course of their careers.
These are just three potential factors, but all cases are unique. For instance, even if they did not suffer injuries themselves, someone who saw their friends get injured or killed may turn to drug use to deal with the emotional impact of that event.
Some of the specific drug use issues that take place include:
- Heavy drinking on a weekly basis, even with no history of it in the past
- Binge drinking and drinking to excess
- Getting addicted to opioids
- Starting smoking for the first time or taking it up again
- Using illegal drugs and abusing prescription drugs, as noted above
For those who suffered injuries, it's a double-edged sword. Not only is that a traumatic event, but the servicemember may actually need prescription painkillers while they heal. This can then lead to addiction if they abuse them or stay on them for too long.
Those who get arrested for drug use and related issues while serving in the military need to make sure they know all of the legal defense options at their disposal.