Substance Use and Military Life

Military service members face unique challenges that can lead to a hidden battle off the battlefield – substance use. Understanding the connection between military life and substance use is crucial for offering practical support and treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, contact 12 South Recovery for comprehensive support tailored to military members.

Pensive military man having therapy session with psychologist in office. Soldier suffering from mental illness and posttraumatic stress disorder

The Unique Stressors of Military Life

Military service comes with a host of stressors that are unique to the profession. These stressors can significantly impact the mental and emotional well-being of service members, often leading to substance use as a coping mechanism.

Deployment and Combat Exposure

Deployment and combat exposure are among the most significant stressors. The experiences of active combat, the constant threat of danger, and the prolonged separation from family and friends can lead to severe psychological distress. This distress can manifest as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and, in many cases, substance use.

Reintegration Challenges

Returning to civilian life after deployment poses its own set of challenges. Service members may struggle with reintegration, adjusting to the slower pace of civilian life, reconnecting with family, or finding employment. These difficulties can lead to feelings of isolation and frustration, often resulting in the misuse of substances as a way to cope.

Chronic Pain and Injuries

Military personnel are at a higher risk of experiencing chronic pain and injuries due to the physically demanding nature of their duties. Prescription medications, particularly opioids, are commonly prescribed to manage this pain. Unfortunately, the prolonged use of these medications can lead to dependency and substance abuse.

The Impact of Substance Use on Military Personnel

Substance use among military personnel can have far-reaching consequences, affecting their personal lives, careers, and overall well-being.

Mental Health

Substance use can exacerbate existing mental health issues such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. It can also lead to new mental health problems, creating a vicious cycle that is difficult to break without proper intervention and support.

Relationships and Family Life

Substance use can strain relationships with family and friends. The erratic behavior and emotional instability that often accompany substance use can lead to conflicts, misunderstandings, and, in some cases, domestic violence. This strain can result in the breakdown of marriages and familial relationships, further isolating the individual and potentially worsening their substance use.

Career and Legal Issues

Substance use can lead to disciplinary actions, loss of rank, and even discharge from service for active-duty military members. The repercussions can be severe, including loss of benefits and difficulty finding civilian employment. Additionally, substance use can lead to legal problems, including arrests and convictions, which can have long-term impacts on a person’s life and career.

Addressing Substance Use: Treatment and Support

Recognizing the connection between military life and substance use is the first step toward providing effective treatment and support. At 12 South Recovery, we offer comprehensive programs designed to meet the unique needs of military personnel.

Substance Abuse Detox

Detoxification is often the first step in the recovery process. Our medically supervised detox program ensures that service members can safely withdraw from substances while managing withdrawal symptoms.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Our IOP provides a structured yet flexible treatment option that allows service members to receive intensive therapy while maintaining their daily responsibilities. The program includes individual therapy, group therapy, and family counseling to address the multifaceted nature of substance use.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

For those needing a higher level of care, our PHP offers a more intensive treatment experience. This program includes daily therapy sessions, medical monitoring, and a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to each individual’s needs.

Aftercare Services

Recovery is an ongoing process, and our aftercare services provide continued support to help service members maintain their sobriety. This includes regular therapy sessions, support groups, and access to resources that promote long-term recovery.

Start Taking the First Step

The connection between substance use and military life is complex, but understanding it is critical to providing the necessary support and treatment. At 12 South Recovery, we are dedicated to helping service members overcome substance use and reclaim their lives. Feel free to reach out if you or a loved one is struggling. Share this blog post to spread awareness and contact our team for compassionate, practical support.


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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