Report: Military needs substance abuse strategy - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Report: Military needs substance abuse strategy

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The new government report is calling for a new strategy to manage substance abuse in the U.S. military.

Michael Long was shot in the back while serving in Iraq in 2005. Army doctors prescribed pain killers plus anxiety medications for post traumatic stress -- leading to another battle.

"You take twice as much an eventually you're 5, 10 times as much as you're  supposed to be taking," Long said.

A new report from the Institute of Medicine says addictions are increasing in the military and that new approaches are needed to prevent and treat substance abuse. Government numbers show 11 percent of active duty personnel reported misusing prescription drugs, and almost half are binge drinking.

"It is a public health crisis and I think that's it is something that for a long time in the military it's been sort of accepted and as a matter of fact -- people with alcohol problems are treated more leniently than people with other forms of drug problems," said Dr. Charles O'Brien with the University of Pennsylvania Center for Studies of Addiction.

The panel says screening and intervention should be part of primary care and that military health professionals need better training. Patients also need more access to services that work.

"We're recommending a long term outpatient approach because this has been found
to be more effective," Dr. O'Brien said.

The army discharged Long in 2009 after authorities found him with multiple prescription drugs. For the past year he's been getting help at  Samaritan Village which has a specialized treatment program for veterans.

"I never thought I'd end up being a junkie -- I don't know. Never thought
this..

Long says he trying hard to stay clean but every day is a struggle.

Ines Ferre - CBS News

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