Navy Launches Online Addiction Treatment Support for Sailors

The Navy has signed a five-year contract with Hazelden to provide online recovery support services for sailors, the Associated Press reported Oct. 3. 

The new, $3.25 million program was developed in partnership with Hazelden for the 10,000 patients in the Navy's Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation Services program. Although the program is tailored for younger sailors and those on active duty, retired Navy personnel and family members will also be able to access it.

According to a 2005 Department of Defense study, individuals in the military age 18-25 drink more heavily than civilians the same age. While illegal drug use has dropped, 17 percent of Navy personnel say they are heavy drinkers — meaning they have five or more alcoholic beverages at least once a week. 

Hazelden developed the program, called Navy MORE (My Ongoing Recovery Experience), for sailors who have completed addiction treatment but who need help staying clean and sober.

“It's when they go back to their homes, when they go back to their ships, when they go into the increasingly stressful environments in which they work that they require these continuing care services,” said Navy Capt. Richard D. Bergthold, a clinical psychologist.

“One of the main reasons for relapse is the loss of that connectivity during early recovery,” said Hazelden vice president Nick Motu. “We believe that if you can maintain a real solid recovery platform for the first 18 months, the chances of your success and long-term recovery are much higher.”

Sailors, retirees, and their families will be able to use MORE to access 12-step recovery materials, a suicide hotline, and treatment for post-traumatic stress. They'll also be able to connect online to support groups, “recovery coaches,” and counselors in real time.

“They don't have access to the traditional recovery communities that someone on the outside world would have,” said Motu.

Begun in August, the program is free for participants, and is expected to serve 1,000 people its first year. Motu said that Hazelden is talking with other arms of the military about providing similar services. 

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