Soldier Educates Peers on the Dangers of Substance Abuse in the Military

greenagelSome people may not realize that the number of active military personnel abusing drugs is higher than the national average. Due to the mental and physical strains that soldiers are put through, many suffer from injuries and are given painkillers and other prescription drugs. After a few weeks of taking the pills, many soldiers become addicted to the drugs. Regardless of how they became addicted, drug abuse is a major problem that needs to be addressed and one ex-soldier is willing to take on the task.

Frank L. Greenagel, Jr. left the military ten years ago. During his time away from the uniform he has taught high school, become a counselor with a focus on drug addiction and opened up a half-way house for recovering addicts in New Jersey. He has also served on a special substance abuse task force.

Greenagel has recently started working with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard so that he can help soldiers suffering from drug and alcohol addictions. He believes that drug abuse is such a problem in the military that they need to reshape policy and take a more aggressive stance against the problem if they want to see it ever get better. So, Greenagel re-enlisted and reported for duty as a behavioral health officer. In this new position he will be able to counsel soldiers with drug problems and post-traumatic stress disorder, which oftentimes leads to a life of drug abuse.

“The saddest cases are the ones where the soldiers were put on prescription drugs by the military and then it became a problem,” he recently commented. Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse is a bigger problem among those in the military than civilians and it shows no signs of slowing down. In three years the amount of active duty soldiers that admitted to abusing prescription drugs rose 7%.

It is clear that Frank Greenagel and others in similar positions have a lot of work to do in their quest to rid the military of its drug problems. In addition to counseling soldiers, Greenagel hopes that he can educated officers on the signs of drug abuse and ways to avoid prescribing such dangerous drugs like Oxycontin or Percocet, so as to prevent more soldiers from developing addictions.