Substance abuse and mental health problems high among military wives and children

Substance abuse and mental health problems high among military wives and children

Military people continuously face isolation and loneliness on being cut off from their families for prolonged periods. Similar feelings creep in the minds of their wives left behind who might have to handle household responsibilities all alone.

Incessant anxiety and feeling of being alone can lead to depression among the wives of military personnel which can push them towards addictive substances. A recent study, titled “Spouses and Children of U.S. Military Personnel: Substance Use and Mental Health Profile from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health,” suggested that military wives were more prone to binge drinking and were more likely to suffer from mental problems compared to their civilian counterparts.

This study, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), focused on wives of military personnel aged between 18 years and 49 years old along with their children aged between 12-17 years. The details obtained were measured and compared for distinctions in substance abuse and mental health estimates for military wives and all married women within that age group. The same was done for children of military personnel and all other teenagers.

Drinking problems and mental health issues common among military spouses

The findings revealed that among nearly 910,000 military women observed in 2015, an estimated 12.8 percent had consumed illicit drugs in the past year. And roughly 5.1 percent had used marijuana in the past year, while 16.2 percent had smoked cigarettes during the past one month.

The data also showed that 67.8 percent had consumed alcohol in the past one month with 31.5 percent manifesting signs of binge drinking in the past 30 days. Approximately 0.9 percent military wives had undergone substance abuse treatment during the previous year.

The report made it imperative to look at the concerns faced by military families that posed as potential reasons for their substance abuse and mental health problems. Stressing on the observations made Kana Enomoto, the principal deputy administrator of SAMHSA said, “It is vitally important that we do everything possible to meet the behavioral healthcare needs of people who have sacrificed so much for our nation. This report will help SAMHSA and others in the field offer programs better designed to address issues that affect military wives and children.”

Need to extend a helping hand to families of military personnel

Resilience is a quality associated with military people and their families and this helps them withstand feelings of desperation and fear due to long periods of separation from their family members.

The uncertainty associated with the duration of separation, the risk of separation in future, and the fear of injury or death can force military wives to use illicit substances as an alternative measure to tackle recurring bouts of anxiety and panic.

Such incidents that take a toll on the mental health do not come to light due to the stigma associated with mental illnesses and fear of unjustified prejudice being labeled against them by the society. All this raises an important question about the availability of mental health service centers or addiction recovery treatment centers for families of U.S. military personnel. An assessment of such details will help in establishing dual diagnosis centers where families of military personnel can be inquired about their dependence habits and any associated psychiatric disorders.

Scope of recovery

It is not surprising for people to suffer from the duality of substance abuse and mental health problems. Physicians need to take both the problems into account for providing a holistic treatment. If you or someone you know, is suffering from co-occurring disorders, contact the Dual Diagnosis Helpline to find out about the best dual diagnosis rehab centers. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-981-6047 or chat online to know about various dual diagnosis rehabs in the U.S.