Military Women, Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders

Military Women, Substance Abuse and Eating DisordersAs more and more military women admit their personal struggles with substance abuse and eating disorders, people are becoming increasingly aware of the factors that contribute to these issues. Get help today to address both these problems and their causes.

Eating Disorders among Women Soldiers

Anorexia and bulimia are common eating disorders among women in the military. Every branch of the military has a percentage of its female personnel who suffer with an eating disorder, and military women have identified that the causes of their eating disorders are similar with the general female population. Military women feel pressure to compete in a male-dominated environment, and they must maintain a weight and fitness level to progress. These two factors can exacerbate the following additional causes of eating disorders:

  • Dissatisfaction with one’s body
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of inadequacy or lack of control
  • Depression, anxiety, anger or loneliness
  • Troubled family and personal relationships
  • Difficulty expressing emotions
  • History of being teased or ridiculed based on size or weight
  • History of physical or sexual abuse
  • Cultural pressure that glorifies thinness and values the perfect body
  • Cultural norms that value people based on physical appearance and not inner qualities
  • Genetic contributions

According to a 2008 study in the Journal of General Psychology, the most common causes of eating disorders include stress, depression, perfectionism and social pressure. Military women often get a dose of all of these issues on a daily basis.

Substance Abuse among Women Soldiers

In a September 2012 report, the Institute of Medicine reported that military physicians wrote nearly 3.8 million prescriptions for pain medication in 2009, more than quadruple the number of such prescriptions written in 2001. The report also stated that since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alcohol abuse among returning military personnel spiked; in 2008 nearly half of active duty service members reported binge drinking.

The National Institutes on Drug Abuse also sponsored several studies targeting the military and substance abuse, and it published the following facts:

  • Alcohol abuse is the most prevalent problem with as many as 27% of soldiers meeting the criteria for alcohol abuse after returning from service in Iraq
  • Mental illness among military personnel is also a concern with as many as 42% of returning soldiers being classified as requiring mental health treatment
  • Drug or alcohol use frequently accompanies mental health problems. Drug abuse was involved in 30 percent of the Army’s suicide deaths from 2003 to 2009, and they were involved in more than 45 percent of non-fatal suicide attempts from 2005 to 2009.

These reports suggest that the Department of Defense needs to implement prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment services to help soldiers and women overcome these issues.

Help for Women Soldiers with Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders

One of the primary reasons that military personnel struggle with drug abuse and eating disorders is because they avoid treatment. Let us help you overcome the obstacles that keep you from the treatment you need. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline anytime, because we can offer confidential information to help you solve both your substance abuse and eating disorder issues.