Management of Substance use Disorder in Military Services: A Comprehensive Approach

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

2 Behavioral Sciences Research Center, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Baqiyatallah Hospital, Tehran, Iran


Background: Historically, substance misuse has been a serious problem faced by worldwide military personnel. Some research showed that military personnel have higher rates of unhealthy substance use than their age peers in the general population. These problems have serious consequences and may lead to significant military difficulties in the field of readiness, discipline, and mental or physical health. In this review, we gathered various methods for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of substance use disorders and suggested a comprehensive plan for Iran Armed Forces to improve existing services. Materials and Methods: This article is a narrative review study, which was carried out on 2016. A careful literature review was performed between January 1970 and April 2016 on several national and international databases. Articles were screened according to the following inclusion criteria: (1) review articles about prevention and treatment protocols, (2) executive guidance, (3) cohort articles about risk factors of addiction, and (4) randomized controlled trials about prevention or treatment of substance use disorders in army service members. After screening by title and abstract, 130 articles selected of 832 founded articles, and after quality assessment, finally, 63 articles included in the review. Results: There is a necessity to manage substance use disorder through prevention, screening, and then referral to proper services for diagnosis and treatment. Urinalysis programs for screening are cost-effective and should be considered as a main method. Effective treatment includes both behavioral and pharmacological methods. Conclusions: The ideal prevention program will include multiple and mutually reinforcing evidence-based universal, selective, and indicated attempts at both the individual and environmental levels. The implementation of screening and treatment strategies needs strict rules and national guideline for the comprehensive management of substance use disorders in army.


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