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More Substance Abuse Professionals Needed for Military Personnel

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Members of the United States' armed forces are in need of more substance abuse professionals, according to a report released Monday by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The U.S. Department of Defense requested that the IOM assess the prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs) among military personnel and their families.

The IOM found that substance use and abuse is prevalent--for example, results from a survey indicated that 20 percent of service members drink heavily and 47 percent binge drink--necessitating “access to providers with advanced levels of training rather than certified counselors or peer support by individuals in recovery,” the report stated.

The report also stated that several substance abuse counselors are not trained in SUD prevention and some of the training manuals and policies are outdated.

The number of patients treated was lower than expected, possibly due to the fact that service members have to notify their commanding officers of treatment. The stigma of seeking help and the military's reliance on residential care rather than outpatient treatment appear to be additional factors.

Source: ABC News