Substance Abuse


Information provided by and VISN 6 MIRECC


Military personnel are deeply affected by their war experiences. Adjustment difficulties are common. These are normal reactions to abnormal experiences. Remember – identifying your problem areas and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. It means you are actively coping with your challenges.

Reasons For Using Drugs And Alcohol

People often drink or use drugs to relax, celebrate, or socialize with others. But people may also use alcohol or drugs to:

  • Help fall or stay asleep.
  • Manage stress and tension.
  • Numb emotional pain.
  • Ease physical pain.
  • “Drown out” worries.
  • Forget problems.
  • Decrease sadness.
  • Relax around others.
  • Avoid upsetting thoughts and memories.
  • “Take the edge off.”
  • Cope with depression.

Illegal drug use and prescription drug misuse are on the rise among service members. Nearly seven percent of service members report that they abuse illegal or prescription drugs. According to military substance use counselors, the most commonly abused drugs are marijuana, “uppers” (methamphetamines and cocaine), and prescription painkillers (Vicodin and Oxycontin).

Misusing drugs can have severe consequences like jail time. Even if they don’t get caught, few people use drugs in moderation. For most people, their drug use gets out of control and causes problems in many areas of life.

Facts about Addiction

Postdeployment User Guide Transition Workbook for Combat Veterans
Naval Health Research Center

  • Even if you do not have an addiction problem, responsible use of alcohol, prescriptions, and over-the-counter drugs, as well as abstinence from all illegal drugs, is critical, particularly as a member of the US military.
  • Like high blood pressure or diabetes, addiction can run in families, and it has many serious long-term consequences: loss of important relationships, unemployment, homelessness, physical dependence, loss of personal control, brain damage, cirrhosis of the liver, depression, legal problems (eg, DUI), financial problems, and suicidality.
  • Addiction can be progressive. In this case, addiction becomes stronger over time, use increases, and associated problems get worse.
  • Many people can recover from addiction.
  • You are most likely to be able to recover from an addiction fairly early on before the problem has progressed very far. Unfortunately, many people do not have the motivation to change until the problem has progressed all the way to where they “hit bottom.”
  • There are several things that can greatly help you in recovering from addiction, such as getting involved in healthy activities (eg, a hobby, meditating, or work), finding a sense of meaning and hope (eg, religion, spirituality, or philosophy), and investing in healthy relationships (eg, friends, family, religious/spiritual groups, or substance use support groups).


Resources for Drug Abuse and Dependency Programs


VA-Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program (ADTP)
3350 La Jolla Village Dr. – 2 West
San Diego, CA 92161
(858) 552-7560

Available treatments address all types of problems related to substance use, from unhealthy use of alcohol to life-threatening addictions.

Narcotics Anonymous
(619) 584-1007

Offers information and referral to support groups for recovering drug addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay drug-free. Does not provide referrals to treatment facilities. Meetings are held in various locations throughout San Diego and Imperial County.

Alcohol and Drug Services
(619) 584-5007
(888) 724-7240 24-hour Behavioral Health Services Access and Crisis Line

Administers, coordinates, plans, and directs a comprehensive alcohol and other drug service delivery system throughout San Diego County. Provides referrals for individuals to appropriate treatment and recovery services for adults, adolescents, and pregnant and parenting women

San Diego Alcohol and Drug Services Center – Volunteers of America
101 16th St.
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 232-5171

Center offers a variety of treatment programs that support the continuum of care needed by individuals suffering from the effects of alcohol and drug abuse. Services include: Sobering services, pre-treatment education, long-term residential and relapse prevention.

Veterans Rehabilitation Center – Veterans Village of San Diego
4141 Pacific Hwy.
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 497-0142

Provides a residential early treatment program for homeless veterans who have substance abuse issues. The VRC offers homeless veterans a safe, clean and sober village-like setting for several months to a year, depending upon individual needs. VRC is integrated with structured case management and mental health therapy.

Capalina Clinic
1560 Capalina Rd, Suite A
San Marcos, CA 92069
(760) 744-2104

Provides methadone maintenance and detoxification treatment; counseling services; urine drug screen monitoring; and fee-based drug testing services to narcotic dependents.

Detoxification Center, San Diego Alcohol & Drug Services Center
101 16th St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 232-9343

Provides a 26-bed, co-ed, non-medical, residential facility that offers a 1-5 day detoxification program for adults. Other services include a referral discharge plan and an orientation to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) programs. Walk in or receive referral.

McAllister Institute
1400 N Johnson, Ste 101
El Cajon, CA 92020
(619) 442-0277

McAlister Institute’s programs provide a comprehensive range of substance abuse treatment and recovery services, including: individual and group counseling, individualized treatment planning, educational workshops, recovery topic-centered groups, job skills, parenting, recovery, addiction, relapse prevention, and health.

Substance Abuse Counseling and Prevention – Marine Corps Community Service
3602 Hochmuth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92140
(619) 524-1832

Provides education, outreach services and counseling. Services are dedicated toward awareness, prevention and providing direct care for those in need. Each client is provided with an assessment, diagnosis if warranted, and a treatment plan.

Chemical Dependency Recovery Program
The McDonald Center at Sharp HealthCare
7989 Linda Vista Rd
San Diego, CA 92111
(800) 734-3477

The McDonald Center at Sharp HealthCare is San Diego’s most comprehensive hospital-based chemical dependency treatment program, which cares for adults, teens and families at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital and Sharp McDonald Center. The Center offers addiction treatment, medically supervised detoxification and rehabilitation, day treatment, outpatient and inpatient programs and aftercare. A residential program provides drug rehab and alcohol treatment in a homelike setting.

Start Your Recovery
433 E. Monroe Ave.
Alexandria, VA 22301

A free, confidential tool that helps individuals take steps toward a healthy relationship with drugs and alcohol.