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Substance Abuse

Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive substance seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her. Although the initial decision to abuse substances is voluntary for most people, the brain changes that occur over time challenge a person's self control and ability to resist intense impulses urging him or her to use substances.

Learn More About Addiction »

Substances

There are a myriad of substances which can be abused or misused, all of which have dangerous health implications. While many drugs are illegal, some legal substances can be bad for you in large quantities or if taken incorrectly.

Learn More About Substances »

Treatments

Scientific research has shown that treatment can help drug-addicted individuals stop drug use, avoid relapse and successfully recover their lives. Based on this research, 13 fundamental principles that characterize effective drug abuse treatment have been developed.

Learn More About Treatments »

Getting Help

Friends and family may be among the first to recognize the signs of substance abuse. Early recognition increases chances for successful treatment. Many treatment options and informational resources are available for members of the military community.

Learn More About Getting Help »

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Drug-monitoring innovations help providers help their patients

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8/6/2018
Two Military Health System innovations are helping to ensure best practices for patients with pain, and for patients who’ve been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Curt Beach)

Focus is on management of pain and PTSD

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DHA PI 6490.01: BH Treatment and Outcomes Monitoring

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (k): a. Establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) procedures for the collection and analysis of BH outcome data. b. Addresses how DoD will standardize BH outcome data collection to: assess variations in mental health and substance use care among in-garrison medical treatment facilities (MTFs) and clinics; assess the relationship of treatment protocols and practices to BH outcomes; and identify barriers to provider implementation of evidence-based clinical guidance approved by DoD. c. Designates the Army as the DoD lead Service for maintenance and sustainment of the Behavioral Health Data Portal (BHDP) in specialty care mental health and substance use clinics, referred to collectively as BH clinics, until BHDP functionality can be integrated with GENESIS or another electronic health record (EHR) system managed by DHA. d. Designates DHA Information Operations (J-6) as lead on transitioning BHDP functional requirements related to outcomes monitoring to future EHR data collection platforms and processes.

There is hope

Article
7/11/2018
Medically assisted treatment for opioid use can break the cycle of addiction.

More than 350,000 deaths are attributed to opioid overdoses nationwide since 1999

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Life without liquor

Article
6/29/2018
There are 2.5 million alcohol-related deaths worldwide each year, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. (Courtesy photo)

One service member’s story of how he overcame a drinking problem

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Progress in preventing opioid abuse, more needs to be done

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6/26/2018
Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Pick, with the 66th Security Forces Squadron, holds a nasal applicator and naloxone medication vial at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts. Naloxone is one of several medications designed to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Hanscom was the first Air Force installation to issue the drug to law enforcement personnel under permission of the base commander. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Herlihy)

The Military Health System has a shared responsibility in addressing the nation’s opioid epidemic

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Substance Abuse

DHA PI 6025.04: Pain Management and Opioid Safety in the MHS

Policy

The purpose of our MHS Pain Management Campaign is to enable Clinical Communities to provide evidence-based pain management guided by clinical practice guidelines (CPGs): effectively treat acute and chronic pain; promote non-pharmacologic treatment; prevent acute pain from becoming chronic; and minimize use of opioids with appropriate prescribing only when indicated. The Pain Management Clinical Support Service achieves these ends through clinical improvements in pain care, clinician and patient education, and research. This Defense Health Agency-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI) is a dual effort between the Pain Management Clinical Support Service and the Clinical Communities to achieve our stated purpose through implementation of the MHS Stepped Care Model.

The sobering reality of one drink too many

Article
1/16/2018
Some people follow the boozy holiday season with Dry January, an unofficial movement to abstain from alcohol for 31 days. But alcohol consumption is a year-round activity, and for some, a year-round problem that requires professional help. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Sahara. L. Fales)

Resolve to limit alcohol, experts recommend

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Substance Abuse

Celebrate good times! No luck, charms or alcohol required

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3/17/2017
Marine Cpl. Edward Blodgett, wears a leprechaun hat at a regimental run in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day at Camp Pendleton, California. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Khoa Pelczar)

Unless you’ve been hiding under the Blarney Stone, you’ve seen the shamrocks — St. Patrick’s Day is upon us

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New year, new medicine cabinet

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1/13/2017
The Military Health System has a drug take back program to help service members and their families dispose of their medications safely. The Department of Justice also has a national take-back initiative. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Valerie Monroy)

Many of our medicine cabinets have bottles of prescribed and over-the-counter medications that are expired or that we no longer use

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To drink or not to drink: Have a plan

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12/21/2016
USS John C. Stennis' crew and family members dance during a command holiday party. For someone concerned about alcohol intake or battling substance abuse, social events may seem threatening. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Jiang)

For someone concerned about alcohol intake or battling substance abuse, social events may seem threatening

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Military Drug Take Back Program offers safe drug disposal

Article
9/12/2016
Excess prescription and over-the-counter drugs can pose a serious risk in your home. The Military Health System is helping the military community fight back against the dangers of unneeded, unused and expired drugs by offering Drug Take Back at U.S. military pharmacies. Most pharmacies have fixed containers in place where you can drop off excess drugs. Airman 1st Class Hannah McDonald, 1st Special Operations Medical Squadron pharmacy apprentice, disposes of an unwanted prescription in to a container in the pharmacy lobby on Hurlburt Field, Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kai White)

The Military Health System is helping the military community fight back against the dangers of unneeded, unused and expired drugs

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DoD Instruction 1010.04: Problematic Substance Use by DoD Personnel

Policy

Establishes policies, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes procedures for problematic alcohol and drug use prevention, identification, diagnosis, and treatment for DoD military and civilian personnel.

  • Identification #: DoD Instruction 1010.04
  • Date: 2/20/2014
  • Type: Instructions
  • Topics: Substance Abuse
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