A research team from the University at Buffalo will be using the $2.3 million grant they received from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to explore the various factors that make service members returning from deployment more susceptible to substance abuse and other mental health problems.
According to the Buffalo Business First, the researchers will follow recent studies by the Veterans Administration to find out why reserve soldiers who return from deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan are at even greater risk of developing substance abuse than active duty military personnel. Unlike previous studies, the UB research aims to tackle social and environmental influences, including stress, trauma, and partner and peer substance abuse.
The study, which begins this month through February 2018, will be led by Gregory Homish, an assistant professor in the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior. He and his colleagues will recruit 400 participants — comprising of male and female reservists who were involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and their spouses.
“Researchers have speculated that difficulties transitioning back into civilian and family life may be responsible for the increased risk observed in reserve soldiers relative to active duty soldiers,” Homish said in a news release. “Among these difficulties is trying to handle the absence of support from other soldiers.”
Alcohol and prescription drugs are among the widely abused substances by military veterans. A study released last year found that 43 percent of active duty service members reported binge drinking. Another study showed prescription drug abuse among military personnel doubled from 2002 to 2005 and almost tripled between 2005 and 2008. What’s even more alarming is that only a few were seeking or being referred to treatment programs.