September 18, 2012

IOM: Military needs more advanced substance abuse care Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012

More providers who are trained in treating substance abuse are needed in the armed forces, says a report released this week by the Institute of Medicine.

The report emphasizes that substance abuse providers with advanced levels of training — as opposed to certified counselors or peer support —are needed in the military. A survey of military personnel found 20 percent were engaged in heavy drinking and 47 percent in binge drinking.

Specific findings of the IOM include the following:

·         Shortages of substance abuse counselors across all branches

·         Wide variation in training and credentialing requirements for counselors across the branches

·         Outdated training manuals for Air Force and Navy substance abuse counselors

·         A noticeable shortage of a workforce trained in substance abuse prevention including physicians trained in addiction medicine or psychiatry

It was also discovered that the number of patients from branches of the military treated was below expectations, which may signal barriers to treatment.

According to ABC News, some of those barriers may include service members having to notify commanding officers of treatment, stigma of seeking help and the military's reliance on residential care rather than outpatient treatment.

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