Veterans and Addiction
There are a unique set of challenges faced by veterans and addiction is one of them. Oftentimes, service members, especially active duty, tend to turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping. Many of these individuals have fought battles that result in conditions like PTSD.
Addiction doesn’t discriminate and it can affect anyone, at any time. Veterans, unfortunately, are not immune to this condition. Finding the right help can make a world of difference in these veterans’ lives, allowing them to live a healthier and productive lifestyle without using substances to cope.
An Overview of Veteran Addiction
The different branches of the armed forces all help to keep this country safe and free. They go into situations, without a second thought, to defend and protect the United States. Many individuals who are serving or have served in the military struggle with substances.
Veterans and addiction often go hand in hand. Due to their experiences, active duty and retired military personnel run a risk of using drugs and alcohol, resulting in dependence and addiction.
Risk Factors of Veteran Addiction
Different factors can play a role in veterans and addiction. Often, veterans have seen man-to-man combat, which can have devastating results. Injury and loss of friends due to combat can play a role in a veteran turning to these substances to mask or relieve some of the feelings they experience.
Injury, in particular, can play a huge role in a veteran struggling with substances. Injuries that are incurred during a military tour can be severe. These injuries can result in being given prescription medications to manage pain.
Even when taken as prescribed, pain medications like opiates can result in physical dependence, impacting the individual’s overall well-being. PTSD can also be a result of the work that veterans do for the country daily. Many men and women in the armed forces come home struggling mentally, and without the proper care, this condition can severely impact their lives.
Veterans and Addiction and PTSD: Symptoms
PTSD is a condition that many servicemen and women struggle with. It occurs after witnessing or experiencing war or other tragic or traumatic events. PTSD can severely impact veterans and addiction can be an outcome. Some symptoms that could be indicative of PTSD include flashbacks, memory problems, hopelessness, relationship issues, aggression, and self-destructive behaviors.
The symptoms can arise when a situation, sound, or even a scent triggers memories of the traumatic event. Having proper care and support to manage these symptoms can help the individual to prevent severe impacts to their daily life.
Veteran Addiction Treatment
Healing is a critical component of veterans and addiction treatment. With healing, the individual can begin learning positive coping skills to get through the stressors and not turn to drugs and alcohol to cope.
Addiction treatment for veterans can be beneficial for these individuals to regain control and achieve long-term abstinence from substances. Therapies can be a positive plan of action when it comes to treating conditions like addiction and PTSD.
Co-Occurring Disorders and Addiction
Co-occurring disorders that often go hand in hand with addiction can complicate the outcomes. Often, veterans are struggling with co-occurring disorders like PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Veterans and addiction to substances can occur when the individual is trying to cope with the symptoms of an underlying condition that may or may not be diagnosed. A dual diagnosis is when an individual has coexisting mental health and substance use disorders, and treating both conditions simultaneously can aid in creating a path to a healthy lifestyle.
Signs of Veteran Addiction
Many signs can be indicative of a veteran potentially struggling with addiction to substances like drugs and alcohol. Being aware of the situation, and what to look out for can help to ensure that the individual can receive much-needed care to prevent further impact to their life.
Signs to look out for can include:
- Excessive drinking or inability to control drinking
- Using drugs and alcohol despite negative consequences
- Drinking or using drugs to cope
- Isolation to use/drink
- Mood swings
- Secrecy or lying surrounding drinking or drug use
- Neglecting responsibilities at work or home
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Excessive weight loss or gain
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Trouble with quitting or slowing down
If any of these symptoms are exhibited, consulting a professional is strongly recommended in order to address the problem and prevent complications.
Treatment is available for veterans and addiction can be overcome. Veterans who find themselves struggling with substances can overcome the physical dependency, and learn positive coping skills for achieving long-term abstinence.
Treatment begins with removing the substances from the body, and from there, the therapies used in addiction treatment can help the individual to obtain the necessary life skills for recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
Trauma therapy is a common approach for individuals who have served in the military and struggle with PTSD. Working through the trauma and the feelings of guilt and shame is a crucial part of recovery and learning to live day to day without turning to substances to cope.
Healing is Possible
Struggling with addiction is a challenge that many veterans face daily. The struggles that veterans endure as a result of active duty play a role in their susceptibility to addiction. Many never receive the help they need. If you or a loved one are a struggling veteran, there is help available. At Lexington Addiction Center, we offer care for individuals who have found themselves struggling, including veterans.
Reach out today and begin the healing process.