Service members from any branch in the US Armed Forces sacrifice so much to serve this great country. Often, those sacrifices leave them scarred mentally, physically, and emotionally. A lot of veterans are trying to figure out how to cope with stress after returning home from one or more deployments. Many of them suffer from mental and physical injuries that can contribute to a substance abuse disorder. The demands put on our veterans including combat trauma can certainly contribute to substance use and addiction among our military.
Veterans and Drug Addiction
It is safe to say that our country’s veterans are predisposed to drug addiction. With the combined stress of deployment and the very unique culture that surrounds the military, both offer risks related to substance abuse. Our service members will also return home from combat with a plethora of different problems including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, traumatic brain injuries, and other bodily injuries. PTSD may lead to the prescription of benzodiazepines things like a bodily injury can lead to opioid prescriptions. Often time’s medications like these are misused for many different reasons and lead to addiction.
According to SAMHSA:
The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 1.5 million veterans aged 17 or older (6.6 percent of this population) had a substance use disorder in the past year.2 Overall, about 1 in 15 veterans had a past year substance use disorder, whereas the national average among persons aged 17 or older was about 1 in 11 or 8.6 percent.3 The rate of substance use disorders among veterans ranged from 3.7 percent among pre-Vietnam-era veterans to 12.7 percent among those who served in the military since September 2001.
Around 64% of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans have prescribed some sort of opioid in just 1 year. Four out of ten of these veterans were using them for the long term. Opioids are very dangerous when not taken exactly right or taken for too long. A lot of times, what happens are an opioid prescription will run out, but this does not mean the addiction stops. They will then resort to alcohol or even graduate to street drugs like heroin to fulfill their needs.
Helping Veterans Addicted to Drugs
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychological condition that is very common among our US veterans and active-duty military. It develops due to experiencing life-threatening events during their deployment. PTSD can affect anyone but is most likely to occur after experiencing long-lasting and intense trauma, combat for example. Common symptoms of PTSD may include: reliving the experience, uncontrolled negative thoughts and feelings, avoiding triggering situations, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and (you guessed it) reckless drinking and doing drugs. Unfortunately, PTSD and addiction tend to go hand in hand. The stressful symptoms of PTSD can lead to someone using drugs or alcohol as a way to temporarily escape from the things they are feeling and going through.
Addiction Treatment Programs for Veterans
Treating both the addiction and the mental illness separately is very important to a lasting recovery. Here at Recreate Life Counseling, we have a program that specifically addresses the issues that dual diagnosis patients face. We offer a cross-disciplinary team of physicians, psychiatrists, and therapists who specialize in both addiction recovery and mental health treatment. Our programs are structured to help patients recover from addiction in a way that coincides with their mental health treatment.
Addiction isn’t an easy thing to face and it is detrimental to face them head-on. You do not have to face this on your own. Our admissions counselors and addiction professionals are available around the clock. We are ready to help you or a loved one overcome the disease of addiction. Now is the time to change your life. Let us help you do it!