This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.
The military might employ some of the world’s most up-to-date weapon systems, but it’s stuck in the past when it comes to preventing and treating substance abuse.
That’s the conclusion of a new Institute of Medicine report released this week. It says that abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs among service members and their families is a “public health crisis” and contributes to the record rate of suicide within the ranks. But the services are often dealing with that crisis in outmoded ways.
For instance, materials the U.S. Navy uses for counselor training haven’t been updated since 1984. The military is reluctant to use medication that can curb cravings and to employ other modern strategies for combating substance abuse. And its drug-testing – created in the years after the Vietnam War – focuses on drugs that aren’t the main problems today.
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