Can You Get Discharged from the Military for Being an Addict?

At 12 South Recovery, we understand the complexities surrounding substance abuse, especially within the military. In this blog, we will delve into whether one can get discharged from the military for being an addict, providing crucial information and support for service members facing these challenges. Deciding to seek help is a significant step, and we aim to provide you with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions. Invite your friends and family to read and share this blog, as understanding and support are vital in overcoming addiction.

Veteran experiencing a hangover, holding a glass of water

What Is Military Discharge for Addiction

The Military’s Stance on Substance Abuse

The military maintains a strict policy on substance abuse due to the high standards of discipline, readiness, and conduct required of service members. Addiction can impair judgment, affect performance, and jeopardize missions, making it a serious concern for the armed forces. Each branch of the military has its regulations regarding substance abuse, but all share a common goal: maintaining a drug-free environment.

Types of Military Discharges Related to Substance Abuse

Several types of military discharges can result from substance abuse:

  1. Administrative Discharge: This is the most common form of discharge for substance abuse. It is typically non-punitive and may occur if a service member is unable to meet the required standards due to addiction.
  2. Other Than Honorable (OTH) Discharge: This discharge type can be issued for more severe substance abuse or repeated offenses. It can affect veterans’ eligibility for certain benefits and future employment opportunities.
  3. Bad Conduct Discharge: This type is given due to a court-martial for serious offenses, including drug-related crimes. It carries significant consequences, including loss of military benefits and difficulties in civilian life.
  4. Dishonorable Discharge: The most severe form of discharge, often resulting from a general court-martial for serious crimes, including drug trafficking or repeated substance abuse offenses. It has profound impacts on post-military life, stripping most benefits and rights.

The Process Leading to Discharge

The process leading to a discharge for substance abuse typically involves several steps:

  1. Identification and Documentation: Commanding officers or medical personnel identify and document the substance abuse issue. This can happen through routine drug testing, behavioral observations, or service members’ self-reporting.
  2. Rehabilitation Opportunities: The military often provides opportunities for rehabilitation before proceeding with discharge. Programs like the Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) or the Navy’s Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program (SARP) offer treatment and support.
  3. Evaluation and Recommendations: The service member’s progress is evaluated after attempting rehabilitation. If they fail to meet the standards, recommendations for discharge are made.
  4. Administrative Proceedings: Formal administrative proceedings take place to review the case. The service member may present their case and seek legal counsel.
  5. Final Decision and Discharge: The appropriate military authority makes the final decision. If discharge is the best action, the service member is processed accordingly.

Support and Recovery Options Post-Discharge

Being discharged from the military due to addiction is a challenging experience, but support and recovery options are available:

Veterans Affairs (VA) Services: The VA offers various services, including substance abuse treatment programs, counseling, and support groups. These resources are crucial for veterans seeking to rebuild their lives post-discharge.

Civilian Treatment Programs: Facilities like 12 South Recovery provide comprehensive treatment plans tailored to veterans’ unique needs. These programs include detox, intensive outpatient programs (IOP), partial hospitalization programs (PHP), and aftercare services.

Peer Support Groups: Organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) offer peer support and a sense of community. These groups can provide a network of understanding individuals who have faced similar struggles.

Employment and Education Assistance: Programs designed to help veterans transition to civilian life often include job placement services and educational opportunities. These can be essential for building a new path after military service.

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Understanding the implications of addiction within the military is crucial for service members and their families. While discharge for substance abuse is a serious matter, it’s important to remember that recovery and support are always available. If you or someone you know is facing these challenges, reach out for help today. Sharing this blog can be the first step in offering support and encouragement to those in need. Contact 12 South Recovery to learn more about our comprehensive treatment options.


At 12 South Recovery, we aim to help restore balance to every area of life – treating the mind, body and spirit so our clients are able to find lasting recovery from addiction and other co-occurring disorders. Our unique Treatment Programs aim to address both addiction and the underlying causes.

Contact 12 South Recovery at 866-839-6876 today.

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