There’s no way around it: Getting deployed can be stressful. Soldiers have one of the most selfless, dangerous jobs in the world, and that can take a toll. Even when they’re proud to put their life on the line to protect their country, they still have to face the realities of a harsh workplace environment and the very real dangers of operating in a combat zone.
In some cases, this stress can lead to substance use and abuse among members of the military. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse puts it:
“Deployment is associated with smoking initiation, unhealthy drinking, drug use and risky behaviors.”
It’s interesting that deployment can lead someone to smoke when they never did before, creating the habit instead of just making it more pronounced. If this trend carries through to other actions, it means that someone who has never used illegal drugs before may begin to do so while on deployment.
It’s also worth noting that the military experience can lead to drug use as a means of escapism when soldiers return. Many have to deal with injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the loss of close friends and much more. This can be very stressful long after the deployment is over. Excessive alcohol use and illegal drug use may become more pronounced or may even begin when a solider gets back to the United States and has trouble adapting back to civilian life.
This type of behavior can lead to arrests and criminal charges, but it’s important to consider the background reasons for that drug use and the legal options soldiers have.