Drug Use in the Military: Is it affecting Our Troops?
When Elvis Presley was stationed in Europe during his military service, his fellow soldiers introduced him to amphetamines and other stimulants used to help keep them alert during long, boring patrol duties. Elvis became addicted to the little brown and green pills – and brought the problem back home with him to Graceland. The King’s death decades later (as a result of a prescription drug overdose) opened many people’s eyes to problems of drug use in the military – a concern that still exists today as thousands of American soldiers are currently fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Drugs in the military threaten our national security because they lower the readiness of our troops. They undermine authority and the strict order that fuels military efficiency. And most importantly, they damage human lives – the lives of the brave men and women who risk their lives to fight for our freedoms. How serious is the problem of drug use in the military? After two decades in which general abuse levels declined across all branches of the U.S. Military, recent numbers indicate that the problem is once again reaching epic proportions. Consider the following statistics: * Since 1999, over 17,000 people have been discharged from the U.S. military because of drug use. * The Navy has discharged more individuals because of drug use during that time (3,400) than any of the other branches of the armed services. * Since 1999, failed drug tests have increased in the U.S. Army by 37%. The study by the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, says about 20 percent of active duty service members reported they drank heavily in 2008, the last year for which data is available. And, binge-drinking rose to 47 percent in 2008 from 35 percent in 1998. While the 2008 Department of Defense Health Behavior Survey reveals general reductions over time in tobacco use and illicit drug use, it reported increases in...
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