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Seeking Help: Combating prescription drug abuse - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Seeking Help: Combating prescription drug abuse

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Members of the armed forces are not immune to the substance use problems that affect the rest of society. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Staff Sgt. Sean Martin) Members of the armed forces are not immune to the substance use problems that affect the rest of society. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Staff Sgt. Sean Martin)

by Staff Sgt. Sean Martin

2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

(5/22/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE Base, LA.) -- Editor's Note: This feature is part of a 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs series on "Airmen seeking help".

I felt nothing. I was just going through the motions day-in and day- out. It all changed once I found an escape. I looked forward to coming home every day and self-medicating until I passed out and was able to temporarily forget about it all. It wasn't until someone confronted me that I realized I needed help fast.

These were thoughts a non-commissioned officer, in our Air Force, experienced. This individual sought help in a time of need, before it was too late.

Prescription drug abuse is defined as the intentional use of a medication without a prescription, in a way other than as prescribed, or for the experience or feeling it causes.

Although illicit drug use is lower among U.S. military personnel than among civilians, heavy alcohol and tobacco use, and especially prescription drug abuse, are much more prevalent and are on the rise.

"Some commonly abused medications are opiod pain relievers such as Vicodin, Percocet and Norco, benzodiazepines and amphetamine-like drugs," said Capt. Michael Glotfelter, Alcohol Drug Abuse and Prevention program manager.

Although different drugs have different physical effects, the symptoms of addiction are similar.

"A person can display physical, behavioral and psychological signs of drug abuse," said Glotfelter. "Some signs include bloodshot eyes, a drop in attendance and performance at work and home, and sudden mood swings, irritability or angry outbursts. There are many other signs and symptoms a person can display that could classify them as having an abuse problem."

A person's own experiences and situations can contribute to them becoming more at risk for developing a prescription drug dependency.

"As with many other conditions and diseases, vulnerability to addiction differs from person to person," said Glotfelter. "Risk factors that can increase a person's vulnerability include deployment related injuries, a family history of addiction, abuse, neglect or traumatic experience as a child or adult, mental health issues such as depression or anxiety or frequently being prescribed medications. People also abuse prescription medications related to misperception that they are safe since they are prescribed by a medical provider."

The Air Force has a variety of tools and programs available to service members who may be suffering from or know someone suffering from an abuse problem. Service members interested in seeking help are strongly advised to do so as soon as they feel it necessary.

"Military members seeking substance use counseling can talk with their doctor, chain of command, or self-refer to ADAPT," said Jeffrey Hikes, Drug Demand Reduction program manager. "In addition, Military One Source has contracted civilian counselors who provide confidential assessment and counseling to military personnel and their families."

"Here at Barksdale, we have various outlets service members can use to include ADAPT, base chaplains, Military One Source, behavioral health consultants and the individuals primary care manager," said Glotfelter. "The Air Force has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to prescription drug abuse, and these programs, along with each and every service member, will help minimize drug abuse within the Air Force."

For information or resources available to service members, visit www.militaryonesource.mil.

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