Female Veterans and Substance Abuse

Female veterans and substance abuseOver the past forty years, the role of women in the household, workplace and political arena has changed dramatically. One of the most difficult places for women to transition into easily has been the military. Although women make up about 20% of the military forces today, this statistic has been gained through struggles with physical, emotional and social abuse from those are resistant to women participating in the military.

Female Veterans and Drug Abuse

While substance abuse in the military impacts both men and women, the following are some interesting statistics about female veterans and drug abuse:

  • Based on SAMHSA’s 2000 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), the number of veterans admitted to substance abuse treatment exceeded 55,000 admissions; 3,000 of these were female veterans
  • Female veteran admissions were less likely than male veteran admissions to report alcohol as their primary substance and more likely to report cocaine as their primary substance of abuse
  • In all years between 1995 and 2000, female veteran admissions had higher proportions of non-white individuals than did male veteran admissions.
  • Per month, around 13.1 percent of male veterans use illicit drugs while 9.6 percent of female veterans use drugs
  • Male and female monthly levels of nonmedical use of prescription drugs such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, or sedatives are about 4 percent for male veterans and approximately 3.5 percent for female veterans

Unique Female Struggles in the Military

Throughout history, women in the military have suffered through several forms of injustice or prejudice. During World War I, women were relegated to nursing roles. In World War II, even though several hundred thousand women served in combat roles for other countries, the U.S. decided not to use women in combat because public opinion would not tolerate it. Women have been treated differently in the military and have suffered through harassment, sexual abuse, inequitable duty assignments, peer condemnation and much more. Other issues that women in the military struggle with include the following:

  • The lack of integrated career paths for women in the military
  • Reproductive choices for women in the military
  • Limited or outdated veteran affairs facilities for women
  • Safer work environments

Substance Abuse Treatment for Female Veterans

Women in the military struggle with the same concerns that many women do, such as self-image, confidence and the need to be all things to all people. However, on top of these concerns, female veterans have also been exposed to life threatening experiences. They may, in fact, have had to take the lives of others. The trauma of military exposure affects both men and women, and, traditionally, women have not received the support services they need to adjust back to civilian life. This can often result in self-medication and substance abuse. Therefore, drug treatment programs that would most benefit female veterans would address not only the physical addiction issues but the emotional and mental issues associated with military service and addiction as well. It is important for female veterans to contact prospective treatment programs to learn about the services they offer to ensure they get a program that understands their concerns and can provide guidance and support.

Get Help for Substance Abuse

Substance abuse among female veterans comes with unique concerns and challenges and requires treatment that is supportive and responsive. It is possible to find the right treatment, and we can help, so please call our toll-free number today.  We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about substance abuse treatment.  We are here to help.