The military, quite naturally, takes a pretty dim view of illicit drug use among service members — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem. Here’s what you need to know about substance abuse in the military:

  1. Binge-drinking can be a problem for active military members.

In general, binge-drinking tends to be problematic among younger people — and young military professionals are no exception. A 2015 study found that a whopping 30% of military members were binge drinkers who met the definition of someone with an alcohol-use disorder. (Among Marines, the figures were even more sobering: About half engaged in dangerous drinking behavior.)

  1. Prescription medications can be heavily abused.

Illicit drugs — the kinds that are only obtained through a dealer — can quickly get a military member into big trouble. The possibility of a sudden drug test has made it dangerous to use marijuana, cocaine and similar substances. Prescription drugs, however, are another story. If a service member can get a prescription for a drug like Xanax or Vicodin, they can hide their abuse of the drug more easily.

  1. Illicit drugs are not an insignificant issue.

While it’s dicier for a military member to use marijuana or other illicit drugs, it does happen. People struggling with addiction will often resort to whatever they can find — no matter what the potential consequences.

The military tends to take the approach that substance abuse is a disciplinary issue. Substance abuse does affect a service member’s mental and physical abilities, after all. However, substance abuse is often a symptom of an attempt to cope with other issues, like depression or post-traumatic stress disorders. Compassion and treatment are often a better approach. If you’ve been charged with a drug offense, find out how an experienced attorney can help protect your future and your career.