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The prevalence of addiction and alcoholism in Iraq War veterans is disturbing considering that many of these vets developed drinking or drug problems as a result of trauma related to their service. For those troops who are still active military members this can be especially troublesome, as admitting a drug problem (or getting caught with drugs) can effectively and literally end a soldier’s career, and sometimes even land them in the brig. For veterans that have been discharged from service, there is a growing veteran’s rights movement that firmly believes that not enough is being done to help men and women who served in Iraq and are now civilians struggling with addiction or alcoholism. Understanding the prevalence and causes of addiction in Iraq War veterans is critical to developing a plan to properly address these concerns and treat those who need it.,At every level of military life it is made blatantly obvious that drinking and drug problems among service people will not be tolerated. From the time a recruit enters basic training to their eventual deployment, a major theme of service in the military is anti-drug related. This is particularly evidenced in the UCMJ or Uniform Code of Military Justice. Article 113A details specifics about court martial procedures and punishments for military members who possess, use, distribute or otherwise engage in drug-related activity. Consequences are severe and range from withheld pay, demotions, imprisonment and dishonorable discharges.,Despite the fact that all active duty service people are provided with Tri-Care – the U.S. military’s health insurance plan – which includes provisions for drug addiction treatment if required, few servicemen or women admit to a drug problem and seek help because the consequences are simply not worth the risk. Instead these people will often continue to use and spiral further down the path of addiction until eventually they make a drug or alcohol related mistake and face the wrath of their superiors.,For Iraq War veterans who have been discharged and returned to their civilian lives, a drug addiction or alcoholism can occur as a result of traumatic experiences that occurred while serving. These veterans have limited access to some addiction treatment services, but often military culture – which teaches soldiers and sailors to be tough and fiercely independent – prevents people from reaching out for help. This is alarming considering the prevalence of addiction in Iraq War vets.,The National Institute on Drug Abuse writes about this prevalence:,”. . . prescription drug abuse doubled among U.S. military personnel from 2002 to 2005 and almost tripled between 2005 and 2008.”,Additionally, Lizette Alvarez reports in a New York Times article;,”Of the 88,235 soldiers surveyed in 2005 and 2006, three to six months after returning from war, 12 percent of active-duty troops and 15 percent of reservists acknowledged having problems with alcohol.”,These high rates of addiction and alcoholism indicate that something must be done in order to mitigate and alleviate this problem. Iraq veterans experiencing drug or alcohol problems are encouraged to seek help from the Veterans Administration, but there are also private and public programs available to help those in need, and often veterans can get access to special terms, conditions or pricing.

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