Health & Safety

March 15, 2013

Doctor: Substance abuse research progresses

by Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON D.C. — Defense Department officials are developing research-based methods to curb substance abuse among service members, their families and veterans, a senior DOD medical official said, March 11.

Dr. Michael E. Kilpatrick, deputy director for force health protection and readiness programs in the office of the deputy assistant secretary of defense for force health protection and readiness, spoke as part of a congressional series on Capitol Hill.

The briefing was sponsored by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, which supports research on substance abuse and associated mental health problems among active-duty members, their families and veterans.

Kilpatrick, who spent 25 years as a Navy physician, outlined some of the research that looks promising for those who battle substance abuse in addition to mental health issues. His years of research and clinical care made him realize that “the more we do, the more we need to do,” he said.

The doctor noted the major advances of saving lives with top-notch U.S. military medicine in war zones. “We’re doing a great job with those physical wounds,” he said, but he added that Defense Department officials want to focus on the invisible wounds of war and know much more needs to be done.

“We recognize there are tremendous stressors and going to war in itself is a stressor,” Kilpatrick said. “Not knowing what the outcome is going to be, not knowing exactly when you’ll be back or what’s happening to your loved ones while you’re gone are stressors.”

Studies and research have shown that the act of going to war, even without engaging in combat, is a tremendous stressor, he added.

Several programs are underway in DOD to help battle substance abuse and mental health issues and the Army and Marine Corps have begun resilience training for that reason, he said.

“We try to get service members to understand what their strengths are,” Kilpatrick said. “What did they grow up with? What were the strengths that got them to the Army or the Marine Corps? And how do they build on those strengths to develop even better coping skills to withstand the stressors that come with the military?”

To detect mental health and substance abuse problems, Kilpatrick said, every service member goes through a health assessment after deployment, followed by yearly assessments. The Army, he added, does health assessments in the combat theater every year.

“In each of those assessments, there are questions about mental health, about post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide ideation and depression,” Kilpatrick said, noting assessments also include questions about alcohol and tobacco use.

“We find a very high rate of people who respond that they think they’re having trouble with alcohol,” he said.

A presidential executive order requires DOD and the Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services departments to work together to provide mental health services, suicide prevention information and substance abuse treatment, Kilpatrick said. All the departments will operate on the same programs to treat mental health and substance abuse issues, with common language and nomenclature, he added.

“That way, there is a single network and not three or four independent systems,” he noted. “As we look at strategies over the next three to four years, we’ll look at how to improve. It’s been an exciting step forward.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Virtual Hope Box mobile app grows in popularity

A free smartphone app that helps people in crisis remember good things in their lives has been downloaded 13,000 times in the past six months, according to data from app stores. That’s good news for experts at the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2), which developed the Virtual Hope Box app to help users...
 
 
Untitled-1

Great American Smokeout: Nov. 20

Every year, on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the nation take part in the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout. They may use the date to make a plan to quit, or plan in advance and then quit smoking t...
 
 

Health Benefits Program open season begins

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) — Open season for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and the Federal Flexible Spending Accounts Program will run Nov. 10 through Dec. 8, officials announced recently. During open season employees and retirees will have the chance to review their current plans and make any changes they desire for...
 

 
HBI

Exercise can improve your mental health

Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Michael Means You’re probably aware of the physical benefits of exercise, but exercise also plays a key role in mental health. It helps people manage stress and prevent or treat depression and anxi...
 
 

Evaluating detox diets: Do they actually work?

When it comes to detox diets, women are a prime target for marketers, who promise a wide range of health benefits including increased energy, focus and immune function. Weight loss claims are also made for some detox plans. Yet these diets are not scientifically proven to be effective. The basic idea is that detox diets...
 
 

‘Lucky 13’ tips for a safe and happy Halloween

Whether you’re goblin or ghoul, vampire or witch, poor costume choices—including decorative contact lenses and flammable costumes—and face paint allergies can haunt you long after Halloween if they cause injury. Enjoy a safe and happy Halloween by following the “lucky 13” guidelines from FDA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Centers for Disease Control...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin