Helping Veterans Struggling with Addiction

It’s no secret that many veterans struggle with addiction. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult challenges they face after returning home from combat. Luckily, there are organizations and programs out there that are dedicated to helping these veterans get the treatment they need.


Substance Abuse Among Veterans

Substance abuse is a huge problem among veterans, with an estimated 11-20 percent of U.S. Armed Forces having a substance abuse disorder. Alcohol abuse is the most common form of a substance use disorder, and other substances such as marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine are frequently misused by veterans due to their often-traumatic combat experiences or living in high-stress settings.


Moreover, behavioral addictions, such as gambling and gaming addiction, are seen especially in post-9/11 veterans due to the proliferation of online gaming and online betting organizations that cater exclusively to this group.


Why Veterans Turn To Drugs And Alcohol

It is a sad reality that many veterans return from service with long-lasting psychological wounds, including mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder. These invisible traumas lead to deep physical distress, mental anguish, and feelings of isolation, making it hard for many to cope in the civilian world and secure a regular life. When faced with unbearable pain or loneliness, veterans may turn to alcohol or drug abuse as a short-term source of comfort but often find themselves entangled in an uphill battle with addiction as a result.


Chronic Pain and Physical Traumas Affecting Veterans

For many veterans, the physical and mental scars of combat can follow them home. A significant issue plaguing a high number of veterans is the lasting impact of chronic pain and physical traumas, from loss of limbs to traumatic brain injuries. These chronic maladies can have an especially large influence on veterans’ struggles with addiction, creating an often insurmountable amount of suffering. Opioid addiction, in particular, is on the rise among veterans, which can become yet another barrier for someone trying to seek help. Furthermore, this cycle can be incredibly destructive without proper treatment and support.


Returning Home with Substance Use Disorders

For active duty service members, returning home from duty is a challenging transition. Often they may find themselves struggling with the sudden lack of structure and normalization or other issues like PTSD and readjustment. Sadly, some Veterans turn to alcohol or drugs to compensate for these feelings of distress and instability, and this often leads to Substance Use Disorders (SUDs).


Substance abuse is a notoriously destructive habit, and it can lead to serious depression, financial instability, and other life-changing effects. Unfortunately, for veterans in America, the stress associated with addiction can often result in suicidal thoughts. Suicide has become increasingly common among veterans struggling with addiction, creating a cycle of destruction that is hard to break.


PTSD and Its Correlation to Veteran Addiction and Suicide

PTSD can leave many veterans feeling hopeless and isolated, desperately searching for relief from the tormenting memories and emotions caused by their experiences. For some, the only solace that can be found is found in substance abuse. Many studies have shown a strong correlation between PTSD symptoms and addiction among veterans, putting them at an increased risk of becoming dependent on drugs or alcohol as a means to cope with their trauma.


For those in the veteran community who have experienced PTSD and its effects, the struggle can seem insurmountable. Regrettably, this burden has been too heavy for some, leading to a recently studied suicide rate of 20 – 40 veterans each day. This statistic should be cause for alarm and also a call to arms.


Addiction and Mental Health Treatment Options For Military Veterans

Military veterans are some of the bravest members of our society. Yet, unfortunately, many struggle with trauma and addiction even after returning home. The good news is that there are addiction treatment options available to veterans that can be tailored to meet their specific needs. From counseling and psychotherapy to support groups and medication-assisted treatment, veterans have access to evidence-based interventions and services that can help them develop healthy coping skills and manage their addiction. It is important to note that treatment options are not one-size-fits-all, which means finding the right programs and services for each veteran is essential for successful recovery. With effective treatments and proper support, veterans can learn how to manage their addiction and move forward in life.


Rehab For Veterans

Veterans who have struggled with addiction have a unique set of challenges that need to be addressed in order for them to fully recover. One way of helping is through rehab programs tailored specifically to veteran needs. These programs are designed to help veterans manage the daily triggers associated with addiction and mental illness while learning better life skills and other coping mechanisms to lead healthier lives. It’s essential that such programs provide specialist support and advice, as well as access to relevant counseling and resources so that veterans can rebuild their lives without succumbing to addiction once again. Through effective rehabilitation programs, veterans struggling with addiction can regain hope in themselves and move towards fulfilling lives rooted in health and well-being.


Medication-Assisted Treatment For Substance Use Disorder

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is an invaluable resource for veterans struggling with addiction. Through MAT, veterans can benefit from the use of approved medications to help manage their cravings, thus making it easier to transition into successful recovery programs. The current standard of care in Veterans Health Administration facilities encompasses a holistic approach to treatment, combining MAT with counseling, addressing social determinants of health, and focusing on post-service lifestyle adjustments. This proactive and multi-faceted regimen can provide a sturdy platform for our veterans to navigate the difficult and often perilous venture of recovery.


The VA

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been vital in helping veterans struggling with addiction. From providing long-term residential treatment to offering specialized programs for mental health disorders like PTSD, the VA has committed to ensuring that all veterans have access to the services they need. With the wide range of resources available through the VA, many veterans are able to seek help and find support as they work towards overcoming their challenges.


Veterans Crisis Line

Every day, Veterans struggling with addiction could reach out for help they desperately need. The Veterans Crisis Line is a safe haven that provides resources and support from knowledgeable, compassionate professionals. They often make a difference by connecting those in crisis to lifesaving resources. This incredible organization is dedicated to providing aid to veterans fighting substance abuse so they can live healthier, happier lives. Due to the help of the Veterans Crisis Line, many veterans are now taking back control of their lives and living without the burden of addiction.


Struggling with addiction is tough, especially for our veterans who have dedicated their lives to serving our country. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Do not hesitate to reach out for help if you need it – your life is worth saving.


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The Union Workforce Initiative is for educational, training, and awareness purposes only. This is not an Employee Assistance Program. We help build awareness within the workforces of employer/employee assistance professionals, substance abuse professionals, nurses, doctors, and other educational professionals.