US Armed Forces Understand Need for Alcohol and Drug Classes

by: Mike Miller

It has been proven that stress is a motivating factor in substance abuse. Combine high levels of stress with an addictive personality and chemical substances and you have a recipe for trouble!

I can only imagine how stressful being a soldier in one of our armed forces must be. Facing the daily, minute-b y-minute danger of life-and-death situations sends chills down my spine. I used to virtually wet myself in paint gun wars!

All this stress certainly has played a role in many veterans and active members being abused to drugs and alcohol.  I am happy to report that US Government officials are being surprisingly proactive in its effort to help its members overcome substance addiction.

A Soldier’s True Story

“We were there in Iraq, playing cards outside of our sleeping quarters when we were attacked – a mortar exploded so close that it rattled our table and lit up the sky around us. As the warning alarms sounded and my comrades scrambled for the bomb bunkers … I just sat there, completely oblivious to my surroundings. It was this incident that opened my eyes to the realization that I had a real problem.”

A Soldier, quoted anonymously for privacy reasons, says that while deployed he was so inebriated during an incoming mortar attack by enemy forces that he was unconcerned for the danger he was in and failed to react as he was trained to do. That Soldier eventually sought help from the Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) and was able to deter from a destructive path.

The ASAP has been a vital and invaluable aid in maintaining overall military readiness for years – especially since the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. More than a decade of war has contributed to the significant increase in drug and alcohol related incidents throughout the military in recent years. ASAP has become a tool for commanders and civilian officials to utilize in an attempt to arm their force with necessary knowledge and prevent continued problems.

Designer drugs are a growing trend throughout the country, especially among service members, and it is a dangerous problem. These substances are sold in stores and difficult to detect.

ASAP Program

Individuals are enrolled in the ASAP program for up to a year, or longer if necessary. During that time, the individual will meet with a team of professionals and attempt to navigate through the issues and find ways to deal with and overcome their struggle with substance abuse. Along with the individual meetings, ASAP members will also meet once a week with a group of other members who are dealing with a similar problem. During these meetings, they share testimonies and provide encouragement and support to one another. ASAP members will also be tasked with individual assignments and projects that will require them to further explore themselves and come face to face with their problems and fears.

ASAP is intended solely as an aid to service members, and is not to be used as a punishment for a failed drug test or admitted drug use – a point that is emphasized to commanders.

The program leaders do  not view ASAP and similar programs as a punishment or a threat, but as a tool.  They see the participants as having overcome an obstacle simply by coming forward; if their experience is a negative one then they might regret the decision to seek help and the condition may worsen.

Commanders are further encouraged to not only treat problems as they arise, but to be proactive in trying to identify those individuals who show signs of potential struggles. ASAP officials also provide tips on prevention as well.

While it is important for commanders to promote resiliency and provide leisure activities for their troops, they should also keep in mind those dealing with substance abuse issues and provide alcohol and drug-free activities as well.

This is one government program that seems to be working and the tax payer funds are being well-spent!