Veterans and Substance Abuse

Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders in Veterans

It is hard for any civilian to understand Veterans’ experiences in their time of active duty. While many may think of the horrific scenes of war from movies, nothing compares to the real-life memories and traumas that ensue after deployment.

When you return home from active duty, you are often welcomed with open arms from loved ones. Unfortunately, as the excitement dies down after your arrival home, there is little support to help veterans process the trauma they have incurred while serving in active combat. To process the traumas you have experienced that remain in your memory, many will turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with the unpleasant emotions and memories left behind. Nearly 1 in 10 Veterans will experience a substance abuse disorder that occurred after your active duty. The alarming rate of Veterans experiencing the throes of addiction raises the concern that effective and supportive treatment methods need to be readily accessible for Veterans.

At WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab, we honor the time our Veterans have served our country and want to provide you with a treatment program that will help you remove the ties of addiction from your life. You will receive specialized therapeutic options to address your trauma while providing you with the necessary tools for effective emotional and physical responses to potentially triggering situations.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today at 877.969.1993 to learn how we can help.

Veterans, PTSD, and Substance Abuse

Addiction is often a result of patients looking for a means to escape uncomfortable feelings and numb the emotional pains of the past. These traumas can include the horrific scenes of war, the immense levels of stress from serving your country, and the risk of sexual assault or harassment that has happened to some Veterans who have enlisted in the military.

Without the proper therapeutic support, the trauma you have experienced will fester inside and create an inability to function freely throughout the day. PTSD is characterized by reliving traumatic events through flashbacks or vivid dreams, sensitivity to loud sounds, abrupt motions, or touch. Without receiving trauma therapy, the symptoms and characteristics of PTSD can have devastating effects on your ability to live your life fully. This is when Veterans will turn to substance use as a way to cope or have the ability to maneuver through life without the intense levels of stress and anxiety.

Veterans and Prescription Drugs

While in active combat, it is common for veterans to obtain injuries while they are on deployment. To manage the severity of the pain, doctors will often prescribe medications to help mitigate the pain levels, with nearly 3.8 million opioid prescriptions being written in 2019. Unfortunately, these medications can be a double-edged sword. As you begin to take them, you will notice you feel less pain, but the allure of the euphoria and escape that opioid medication can bring often will pull Veterans into a cycle of addiction that was unintentional.

Veterans experiencing PTSD often exhibit anxiety symptoms when dealing with difficult emotions or triggering feelings and thoughts in social situations. To lessen the anxiety, veterans may be prescribed medication such as benzodiazepines to ease the symptoms they are experiencing. Benzos are highly addictive and when misused, can create a physical dependency and addiction that will lead you into a vicious cycle of addiction.

Veterans and Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances and, for veterans, this also remains the same. Veterans turn to alcohol to numb the difficult feelings and memories associated with PTSD and fighting in active combat. Nearly 56% of Veterans that access treatment are searching for support for alcohol addiction. With the easy accessibility and societal norms associated with drinking, your alcohol use can quickly turn into a dangerous concern with the potential for life-threatening withdrawal symptoms if your drinking progresses to a consistent, regular level.

Treatment for Veterans with Substance Use Disorder

An effective treatment program for veterans needs to include dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. These evidence-based methods include specialized programming geared towards healing from trauma.

At WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab, we provide our patients with a safe and secure environment within our residential facility. Our team of compassionate counselors will let you lead the way in your therapy sessions, meaning that we don’t push you to talk about anything that you don’t want to talk about. Our trauma-informed approach will help you heal from the emotional wounds of deployment while respecting your personal journey and healing process. Please get in touch with us today to learn more about substance abuse treatment for Veterans.

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.

About the Author

Jackie has been involved in the substance abuse and addiction treatment sector for over five years and this is something that she is truly eager about. She has a passion for writing and continuously works to create informative pieces that not only educate and inform the public about the disease of addiction but also provide solutions for those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.