Treatment Available to DoD Beneficiaries
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2001 DoD aggressively treats drug and
alcohol abuse in family members and retirees as well as active duty
"Addiction is an illness. It's a medical condition that requires
identification and treatment and rehabilitation," said Roger
Hartman, a health policy analyst with
the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.
Military and family members identified as substance abusers will
receive counseling and treatment, Hartman said. He noted that active
duty members who use illegal drugs will typically be separated from
"There was a time years ago that we would counsel and rehabilitate
and try to return drug abusers to duty," he said. "But
in this day and age of high
technology and sophisticated systems, we can't afford any lapse
in performance or behavior on the job."
Whether drug abusers step forward and ask for help or wait to be
caught by urinalysis testing can make a difference on their future
Members who self-refer themselves for treatment could be administratively
separated from the military as opposed to punitively separated,
"With alcohol, the military is a bit more tolerant because
it's a legal beverage if you're over the age of 21," Hartman
said. "We encourage early identification of
those who do have a drinking problem, referral into an appropriate
level of counseling and treatment, and then return to duty and participation
in an after-care program."
The same counseling and treatment services are available to family
members and retirees. Hartman said DoD has been a leader in the
field of substance abuse
treatment for 30 years and uses the standards established by the
American Society of Addiction Medicine. "We have quality programs
stringent certification requirements for our counseling staff and
accreditation requirements for the facilities themselves,"
Hartman said he believes the nature of substance abuse is similar,
whether the substance be drugs or alcohol. "The substance becomes
something that begins
to control and take over the life of the individual," he said.
"Everyone's use of drugs or alcohol starts out experimentally.
I don't think anybody ever sets out to
become an alcoholic or a drug addict, but for some that path ultimately
leads to addiction."
There are many avenues individuals seeking help for substance abuse
can take. They can seek help through the military medical system,
base community or
family counseling centers, chaplains or their chains of command,
Ultimately, Hartman said, substance abuse is a readiness issue.
"Substance abuse treatment is part of the overall effort to
get our people as healthy, as fit and
as ready as they can to do their job as a military member,"