Challenges Veterans Face Related to Substance Abuse
Veterans face a unique set of challenges when they return from deployment, and many of them struggle with post-traumatic flashbacks, which is an outcome of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Readjusting back to regular day-to-day life can prove difficult for these individuals as they may be struggling with internal conflicts, injury, and the mental weight of what they experienced during combat.
Some of the challenges that veterans face that can lead to substance abuse are:
- Lack of support, guidance, and funding, leaving vets coping on their own
- Struggling with mental health issues
- Triggering memories that can result in drug and alcohol abuse
For veterans who are struggling with an underlying mental health disorder as well as a drug or alcohol abuse problem, addiction treatment, counseling, and therapy are necessary.
Statistics About Veterans and Substance Abuse
Unfortunately substance abuse is widespread among veterans, as alcohol and drugs become an easily accessible coping mechanism and self-medicating method. A recent study of 1,100 infantry soldiers discovered that 12 percent of these individuals struggle with behavioral problems that are a direct outcome of alcohol abuse, while 25 percent of these individuals misuse and abuse alcohol.
Another study discovered that 10 percent of veterans struggled with alcohol use disorder (AUD) which can quickly develop into dependency and addiction. Recent studies found that four percent of veterans use illicit drugs while 3.5 percent were regular marijuana users, whether medicinal prescribed or not.
Why Do Veterans Experience Higher Rates of Substance Abuse and Addiction?
Many veterans return home from military service with a physical injury that can affect their ability to be mobile. Not only do accidents that involve mobility also affect the individual’s ability to obtain specific employment opportunities, but these injuries can be excruciating.
Veterans who were injured in combat may be prescribed opioids to help them manage the chronic pain that they are experiencing. Unfortunately, opioids are highly addictive and habit-forming, which can lead to full-on addiction.
Chronic and persistent pain resulting from physical injury during combat can be excruciating and hard to manage. For those who were injured during their military service, chronic pain plagues them, and they may turn to pharmaceuticals in an effort to mitigate and ease the discomfort.
Unfortunately, prescription painkillers are addictive and can be easily abused to create a ‘high.’ In turn, the individuals will begin to build up a tolerance. They will require a higher dose or more of the drug to feel its effects. This tolerance eventually becomes a dependency issue which will inevitably result in addiction.
One of the most challenging barriers that veterans face is mental health care and support. There are insufficient resources and help available for ex-military, leaving them dealing with their co-occurring disorders on their own.
Veterans are at risk of developing a mental health disorder, as many have experienced traumatic events that induce flashbacks and bad memories. Some of the co-occurring mental health disorders that veterans may struggle with are:
- Clinical depression
- Generalized anxiety
- Bipolar disorder
PTSD is the leading mental health disorder that veterans struggle with. When an individual struggles with PTSD, they experience vivid flashbacks of the trauma that they have experienced. This can take a toll on the individual’s ability to function normally in everyday society, leaving them prone to addiction and substance abuse. To stabilize an individual who struggles with PTSD, therapy, counseling, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) are often the most practical combination of modalities.
Addiction Treatment for Veterans at WhiteSands
For veterans struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, specialized addiction treatment is available through WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab. Through one-on-one therapy, patients will work through their drug or alcohol addiction. They will learn various coping mechanisms and trigger management skills that will help them in their recovery journey. Contact us today or visit any of our Florida locations to see how our treatment programs can help you overcome addiction.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.