Substance Abuse and Mental Health Treatment Barriers: Military Life vs. Civilian Life

1239 Words Apr 23rd, 2013 5 Pages
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Treatment Barriers:
Military Life vs. Civilian Life
Marina Herrera
Butte College


This paper explores the interesting relationship between substance abuse and mental health problems among military and civilian life. As well as stigma barriers to treatment within a military vs. a civilian setting. The article “Substance Abuse and Mental Health Treatment in the Military: Lessons Learned and a Way Forward” written by Katie Witkiewitz and Armando Estrada takes a look at the treatment barriers and how they are not necessarily unique to military settings and/or civilian settings. They also explore how the military setting itself can help destigmatize substance abuse and mental health problems
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Britt (2011) Clinton-Sherrod (2011) discovered that soldiers tend to view substance abuse problems as normative behavior that is associated with the military culture, “that is, drink heavily but do not let it affect your performance because if you do it’s your fault”. However mental health problems are viewed as counter to military culture. Soldiers view mental health problems as a sign of weakness; which is not tolerated in the military. Seeking help when mentally disturbed has a negative cogitation in the military, because of the inability to perform, as well as the stigmatization that results from a soldier simply admitting they need psychiatric help. These barriers to treatment for soldiers have been identified as significant barriers to treatment for civilians as well (Witkiewitz, Estrada, 2011). Tucker, Vichinich and Rippens (2004) found that stigma, negative attitudes toward treatment, the belief that treatment is unnecessary, and economical factors are the most significant reasons invdiviuals do not seek treatment. Therefore, indivual and organizational barriers associated with substance abuse and mental health problems in a military setting are almost the same as those barriers found in civilians.
The main difference between mental health problems and substance abuse among civilians and the military is the opportunity for

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