Substance Abuse in the Military

Choosing to enlist in the military is an admirable and noble endeavor. Our country needs service men and women wiling to put their lives on the line to defend the freedoms we enjoy today. Active military personnel are exposed to incredibly high-stress situations, not to mention being deployed thousands of miles away from their loved ones in strange and often inhospitable environments. These stressors easily lend themselves to increased substance use, putting our service men and women at greater risk of developing a substance abuse disorder.

For many service men and women, enlistment is a calling they have felt from an early age, often inspired by a parent or grandparent’s having served in the armed forces. While they may have grown up hearing stories about the hardships endured in the course of active military service, nothing can prepare a person for the experiences encountered in active duty. For new recruits, this culture shock is conducive to substance use and abuse, especially when combined with the strong influence of peer pressure among military members. A zero tolerance policy for illicit drugs combined with frequent random drug testing has proven to be a strong deterrent, leaving alcohol as the substance of choice for most military men and women.

Binge drinking is the leading form of substance abuse among active military personnel. This is particularly alarming given the prevalence of binge drinking among new recruits, who are often at a young age where neurological development is still ongoing. For those predisposed to addictive behaviors, this binge drinking can easily develop into a full-blown substance abuse disorder. Once the addiction has taken root, active service members often feel compelled to hide their substance abuse rather than seek treatment for their disease as admitting they have a problem would lead to their being disqualified from active duty. These factors combine to create a breeding ground for substance abuse disorders among active military personnel.

Serving your country is an honorable undertaking, and if you are willing to make this sacrifice I encourage you to follow your heart and conscience. It is a good idea to educate yourself about the dangers of binge drinking prior to the commencement of your career in the military so you can be on the lookout for potentially dangerous behaviors in your life as a service member. Remember that your life is not defined by your military career, and if you find yourself struggling with substance abuse while in active service you should not hesitate to seek help regardless of the consequences this will have on your qualification to serve. You are far more valuable to your family and your country sober than you are in active addiction.


Evolutions is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center located in beautiful South Florida. Our holistic approach to addiction treatment centers around addressing and healing the underlying issues at the root of addiction, rather than merely medicating symptoms away.

Our treatment program includes individual and group-based therapy to help clients understand and manage their symptoms and emotions.

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, alcoholism, or any co-occurring disorders please call us at (833) 818-3031 or