Substance Abuse In The Military Now A Public Health Crisis (VIDEO)

09/27/2012 10:30 am ET

HuffPost Live's Alicia Menendez explores why the Pentagon's methods for dealing with substance abuse aren't working and what soldiers need to help them in such times.

Soldiers are trained to deal with life or death situations during deployment, but many don't find relief even after they return home. Returning with bodily injuries, mental disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and finding no avenue of dealing with these issues, many may turn to alcohol for comfort.

According to the Millennium Cohort Study soldiers who are deployed and exposed to combat, "are at increased risk of new-onset heavy weekly drinking, binge drinking, and other alcohol-related problems."

Don Lipsteen shared the heartbreaking story of his son, who had done two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Navy only to come home and find out he had a brain tumor.

"He was able to get supplies from his mother, who thought she was doing a lot of good by supplying him with the drugs, the barbiturates that he was taking," Lipsteen said of his son. "Unfortunately that proved that that was not helpful at all, and he did take his own life, strung out on heroin by the time he did."

"The problem is once somebody becomes dependent we know that most of them are not gonna simply be able to just say no, and they need treatment," Bob Newman, scientific advisor at Nerium Biotechnology told Menendez. "The good news is that treatment is available, its been tried and true for decades, but the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs has an exclusion saying we will not pay for the gold standard of treatment, and that's irrationale, its insanity and its very, very inappropriate."

According to a 2008 study, 20 percent of soldiers in active service having 5 or more drinks a day, and the 2011 study from the National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that 20 percent of active and 42 percent of reserve soldiers need mental health treatment.

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