Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Military's Approach to Drug, Alcohol Use Disorders Called Outdated

Outdated approaches to preventing and treating substance abuse, barriers to care, and other problems hinder the Pentagon's ability to curb substance use disorders among military service members and their families, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. Service members' rising rate of prescription drug addiction and difficulty accessing adequate treatment for alcohol- and drug-related disorders were among the concerns that prompted Congress to request this review.

"We commend the steps that the Department of Defense and individual service branches have recently taken to improve prevention and care for substance use disorders, but the Armed Forces face many ongoing challenges," said Charles O'Brien, the Kenneth Appel Professor and vice chair of the Department of Psychiatry and director of the Center for Studies of Addiction at the University of Pennsylvania. He chaired the committee that wrote the report. "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."

To provide effective treatment, civilian mental health care clinicians must be as aware of the needs of military veterans as their counterparts in the Armed Forces are. Read more in Psychiatric News here. Also see a Psychiatric Services report on pharmacotherapy of alcohol use disorders in the Veterans Health Adminstration here.
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