Substance abuse is a condition in which the individual utilizes chemical substances that alter mood and behavior in a maladaptive manner, causing significant distress and failure to function normally at home, workplace, school or in social settings. Some individuals may also do dangerous acts or get themselves in trouble with the law. Some of the substances which can be misused include alcohol, marijuana, stimulants, tobacco, cocaine, etc. The incidences of substance abuse are quite high in the navy.
Substance abuse is often linked with several unsolvable problems in life especially at the workplace or concerning personal issues.
Individuals who cannot cope with these problems turn to alcohol, cocaine, cannabis and other substance to relieve their distress. The US Navy is quite strict about substance abuse, and maintains a ‘zero tolerance policy’ both during duty and after duty, or offshore and afloat. According to this policy, misuse of drugs or alcohol in the Navy is not suited in maintaining the high standard of performance, discipline and promptness.
It destroys the navy’s goal of installing pride and sense of professionalism However, several individuals in the navy may have a drug problem, and the leaders should try to retain such staff and help them to get back to normal life and functioning. The Navy has lost several of its sailors due to substance abuse, which has resulted in a number of families getting destroyed. A survey conducted by the Department of Defense in 1980 found that 46% of the navy personnel used cannabis during the last 1 month.
Out of these, about 26% confessed that they had been under the influence of drugs at their work. The incidences of cannabis use were especially high in individuals who had experienced a traumatic event at their work. Cannabis is one of the most misused drugs in the navy. There is a common misconception that cannabis use is safer than smoking tobacco. However, studies conducted showed that smoking cannabis significantly increased the risk of developing cancers of the head, neck and the lungs. Many individuals also felt that it was easier to quit cannabis use.
However, studies conducted on individuals trying to quit the habit showed that they had severe problems including sleeplessness, irritability and aggression. Amongst all positive urine test results, cocaine accounted for 14% to 22% in Navy personnel in the last four years. Cocaine can be consumed through various means such as smoking, snorting, etc. The drug makes the individual feels euphoric, energetic, mentally alert and sensitive to various stimuli. Cocaine produces several ill-effects on the heart, blood vessels, lungs, nerves and the brain.
In developing a program to combat substance abuse in the navy, it is very important to make the participants understand the ill-effects and the risks associated with substance abuse. The program has to include certain aims, goals, objectives and the certain means have to be implemented in a planned manner to attain these goals. The main aim of the program is to stop illicit substance use by the navy personnel. The goals of the program include educating the participants about various signs/indications through which substance abuse can be recognized. They should also be educated about the ill-effects, risk and consequences of the drug use.