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Armed Forces: Drugs

Volume 486: debated on Monday 12 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) serving and (b) former members of the armed forces are in (i) drug and (ii) alcohol rehabilitation. (244936)

Information on the total number of service personnel currently receiving any treatment for substance misuse is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, information on the number of new attendances at military Departments of Community Mental Health (DCMH) in 2007 for which an initial diagnosis of substance misuse was given is contained within UK Armed Forces Psychiatric Morbidity report which is produced by DASA and is available to view on their website at The number of such initial diagnoses at DCMHs between 1 January and 31 December 2007 are shown as follows; these figures will include regular service personnel, mobilised reservists and entitled de-mobilised reservists as part of the Reserve Mental Health programme.

Psychoactive substance misuse

Of which disorders due to alcohol1

January to March 2007


April to June 2007



July to September 2007



October to December 2007



1 Specific data not available for disorders due to use of alcohol during January to March 2007.

The Department has issued guidance to commanders on substance misuse and all three services have robust drug and alcohol policies in place. As such early intervention by the chain of command is likely to occur for disciplinary or welfare reasons before treatment by the Defence Medical Services would become necessary.

Service personnel identified by the chain of command as being at risk of alcohol misuse receive counselling and welfare support, this can include attendance on preventative early intervention programmes designed to alert them to the harm that alcohol can cause to themselves and others. More serious cases are treated through specialist medical and psychological treatment and rehabilitation, including where appropriate as in-patients.

Drug use is seen as being incompatible with military service and as such there is a zero tolerance policy which is reinforced by Compulsory Drug Testing (CDT). In the majority of cases a positive CDT result will lead to an immediate administrative discharge. In very exceptional circumstances service personnel may be retained if their drug use is considered to be uncharacteristic and their retention would be in the interest of the service. In these cases retention is subject to the successful completion of a special programme, which is designed to re-educate and give training in cognitive behavioural therapy.

The Department does not hold information regarding veterans receiving treatment for drug or alcohol misuse.