Over the last decade, the Armed Forces have improved access to addiction treatment for both members and ex-members, although the situation is far from perfect.
For instance, many currently members of the Armed Forces may be afraid to seek out treatment for drug or alcohol addiction through fear of being punished. This fear is often well-founded, because members of the Armed Forces who fail a drug test are often routinely expelled from their duties. This expulsion is often automatic, permanent and without any right to appeal the decision.
There are many reasons why people in the Armed Services develop and addiction to drugs and alcohol. One of these reasons is due to the drinking culture that exists within the Forces. The Forces often radiates a macho image, and many people feel pressured to live up to this image by abusing alcohol or drugs. This drinking culture may be encouraged by the highest echelons of the Forces. For instance, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the infamous ‘rum rations’ was abolished in the Royal Navy.
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Alastair Allison MSc, CISM SIRM
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