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Friday, October 23, 2015

The Army Will Address Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Substance abuse is a large problem among members of United States armed forces. Many active service members and veterans use drugs and alcohol to self medicate, for both mental and physical injuries. USA Today recently uncovered that soldiers suffering from addiction received poor treatment which led to a rise in suicides. In response to the investigation, the Army announced that it is placing medical officials in charge of substance abuse treatment for soldiers, USA Today reports.

"They're finally going to bring some reasonable and responsible action to help soldiers," said Dr. Patrick Lillard, a psychiatrist and former clinical director of the Army's largest in-patient substance abuse program at Fort Gordon, Ga.

"It means that the direction of the substance abuse treatment program will be back in the province of medical people rather than command, so that decisions will be made by medical people" said Lillard, a vocal critic of the earlier change in management. "The people in command do not understand the nature of the (substance abuse) disease and the complications that occur." 

The investigation found that half of all army substance use disorder treatment clinics did not meet professional standards, according to the article. Many of the clinics hired unqualified directors and counselors.

Wanda Kuehr, a psychologist and former director of clinical services for the Army substance-abuse program, cautioned that "safeguards must ensure that (treatment) clinicians continue to be licensed, trained and certified in substance abuse rehabilitation. If not, soldiers' treatment is not likely to be optimal. In fact, it may well put the soldiers at risk."

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