Addiction in the National Guard & Reserves

People who joined the reserves most likely joined for the benefits of having one foot in the civilian community and one foot in the military community. There are several benefits that people find to joining the reserves. People who join the reserves can:

  • Go to college and get paid for it 
  • Earn more money and save more money
  • Make a difference
  • Stay fit and healthy
  • Earn instant respect

Most people have a sense of duty and honor for their time spent serving others in the reserves. They have enjoyed the full-time benefits of military service while pursuing a civilian career or education. However, recent studies show that a growing number of people have joined the reserves and are reporting non-deployment emotions (NDE). (1) Of those reserve members who report NDE, males have also reported hazardous drinking. Being prone to hazardous drinking puts males in the reserves at a higher risk for developing substance use disorder (SUD), among other mental health complications, during their time in service. 


The Reserves of the US Armed forces make up more than 30% of the US military; the most significant number comes from US Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers. Scholars believe part-time service members are at a higher risk for SUD and other psychological disorders than their active duty counterparts. (2) Studies on populations of soldiers who have deployed indicate that the reservists are more likely to report bouts of SUD than active duty soldiers. Most of the studies have focused on reservists who have been deployed. However, more recent research indicates that never-deployed reservists are nearly two times as likely to suffer from SUD. The Ohio Army National Guard Mental Initiative suggests that 15.6% of all National Guard soldiers experience drug abuse problems in their lifetime, despite the “zero tolerance” policy of illicit drug use by the US Armed Forces. (3) If you are currently struggling with substance abuse and are in the reserves, Tree House Recovery’s Admissions Specialist can help you navigate what you need to do to help you overcome these issues and get back to the healthy version of yourself. It begins by calling in and doing a confidential assessment with one of our trained professionals. 

Non-deployment and SUD

There are many reasons why a reservist may not get selected for deployment. The reasons range from health status, injury, and life events to stateside needs, overseas needs for specific specialties, and more. In studies between deployed and never deployed National Guard personnel, the number of people who reported a lifetime SUD problem was comparable between the two groups, with deployed reporting at 15.1% and never-deployed at 16.7%. (4) However, significant research shows that never-deployed USAR/NG soldiers experience feelings of guilt, low self-esteem, and decreased connectedness. Additionally, when left untreated, many report symptoms similar to and have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), even though they have never deployed. (5)Do you know if you or anyone you love is living unnecessarily with PTSD?

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

The Mayo Clinic outlines some behaviors associated with PTSD:

  • Intrusive memories
  • Avoidance
  • Changes in thinking and mood
  • Changes in physical and emotional reactions

Now, when it comes to UNAR/NG soldiers who have deployed, it may be easier only to identify these symptoms. Still, to the average person, it would make sense why a soldier who has been deployed would be experiencing a form of PTSD if they were deployed. For reservists who have never been deployed, it is harder for the average person to understand why PTSD symptomology would be present. However, except for the intrusive memories, many of the other signs and symptoms are understandable and relatable. 

Have you ever played on a team that won a big game, only you didn’t play a single second? 


Have you ever played on a team and watched someone you care about get hurt but couldn’t do anything to stop it because you weren’t playing at the time?

If you think about both of these scenarios, it becomes clearer how a reservist who has never deployed could begin experiencing signs and symptoms of PTSD. The guilt and feeling of not being able to contribute value to the cause is a leading indicator researchers have found that leads to NDE. (6) Whether you have been deployed or not, PTSD and the struggles accompanying untreated PTSD are severe matters. 

At Tree House Recovery, our Admissions Specialists are trained to handle the most sensitive situations in a way that will result in a solution-based approach for you or your loved one. 


Dangers of Untreated PTSD

In previous articles, we have outlined how Veterans who have been deployed are at substantial risk for SUD and Suicide. This article will explore the chances of untreated PTSD in never-deployed reservists. In a recent study, scholars suggest that the broken camaraderie, feeling of decreased value, and consistency of guilt for those reservists who never deployed are some of the leading causes of PTSD symptomology. Additionally, of those 182 reservists who studied over 15 months, some of the results were astounding: 

  • 66.7% Reported nonmedical prescription opioid abuse.
  • 55.6% Reported the use of prescription sedatives.
  • 44.4% Reported the use of nonprescription stimulants.

The study suggested that to cope with the feelings of the NDE, and participants began to self-medicate with substances to address their emotional needs in an unhealthy way. (7) What do you do if you struggle with substances and in the reserves? How do you move forward as a civilian or a military member if you are stuck in addiction? 

The first step is knowing that there is a way through these struggles. Our treatment team in Portland has an evidence-based approach to addiction that will help you overcome your struggles and return to life in optimized condition to conquer your civilian and military responsibilities. 

Effective Treatment for PTSD and SUD

Are you ready to overcome this struggle and get back to your responsibilities? The excellent news is at Tree House Recovery PDX. We successfully treat PTSD and addiction together simultaneously. Whether you or someone you love is battling SUD and PTSD, understand that no one has to fight this alone. Tree House Recovery offers confidential assessments, where specialists will assist you to create and execute a plan that is specific to your unique situation and will work. We can and want to help.

Our treatment teams are trauma and SUD experts. Our team employs proven methods to resolve your traumas and help you regain control of the life you deserve. Our approach is a Mind-Body & Team approach that will optimize your mental, physical and social fitness. 

Our comprehensive evidenced-based approach includes the following: 

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy 
  • Cognitive Processing
  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • SUD Fitness Therapy
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy 
  • Family Therapy

Additionally, the loss of connectedness that many researchers have suggested leads to addiction struggles for people who have or are serving in the reserves is something that Tree House Recovery prides itself on treating. Several of our modalities focus on Team dynamics and creating lasting healthy bonds with your teammates. One modality that concentrates heavily on connectedness is Action Based Induction Therapy. We use mixed martial arts at Tree House Recovery PDX to create long-lasting bonds special to treatment at Tree House Recovery. For more information on Action Based Induction Therapy, click here

At Tree House Recovery, we want you to know you are never alone. We want to help all veterans ready to move forward with their lives. We stand ready to help and dedicate ourselves to helping you or your loved one overcome PTSD and SUD. Our team specializes in assisting veterans to overcome their struggles and return to their lives as the healthiest version of themselves possible. Our approach will lead to growth in all areas of life and help anyone move into a place of peace, gratitude, and health. Please, if you or someone you love is seeking help, don’t hesitate to contact our experts. You have support waiting on the other end of the line. 

Rehab for National Guard

Cited Sources
  1. Hoopsick, R. A., Homish, D. L., Lawson, S. C., & Homish, G. G. (2022). Drug use over time among never-deployed US Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers: The longitudinal effects of non-deployment emotions and sex. Stress and Health, 1– 13.
  2. Beckman, R. L., Bloom, E. L., Breslau, J., Collins, R. L., Dunbar, M. S., Engel, C. C., Gilbert, M., Grant, D., Hawes-Dawson, J., Holliday, S. B., MacCarthy, S., Meadows, S. O., Pedersen, E. R., Robbins, M. W., Rose, A. J., Ryan, J., Schell, T. L., & Simmons, M. M. (2021). Health related behaviors survey: Comparing the active and reserve components. RAND Corporation.
  3. Tamburrino, M. B., Chan, P., Prescott, M., Calabrese, J., Liberzon, I., Slembarski, R., Shirley, E., Fine, T., Goto, T., Wilson, K., Derus, A., Ganocy, S., Beth Serrano, M., & Galea, S. (2015). Baseline prevalence of Axis I diagnosis in the Ohio Army national guard. Psychiatry Research, 226(1), 142–148.
  4. Hoopsick, R. A., Benson, K. R., Homish, D. L., & Homish, G. G. (2019). Resiliency factors that protect against post-deployment drug use among male US Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers. Drug and Alcohol Dependence(199), 42-49.
  5. Hoopsick, R. A., Vest, B. M., Homish, D. L., & Homish, G. G. (2018b). Combat exposure, emotional and physical role limitations, and substance use among male United States Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers. Quality of Life Research, 27(1), 137–147.
  6. Tangney, J. P., & Dearing, R. L. (2002). Shame and guilt. The Guilford Press.
  7. Hoopsick, R. A., Homish, D. L., Lawson, S. C., & Homish, G. G. (2022). Drug use over time among never-deployed US Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers: The longitudinal effects of non-deployment emotions and sex. Stress and Health, 1– 13.