Veterans sacrifice their health to serve their country. The level of trauma involved in combat increases the risk of developing substance use disorder (SUD). Male veterans are more than twice as likely to develop SUD with multiple co-occurring conditions. Trauma causes isolation, which makes adjusting to life difficult.
Veterans often feel out of step with people who have never served. Veterans who have been deployed live in a very stressful environment where drinking and drugs are an acceptable way to cope. Male veteran substance abuse increases rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts because of the warrior ethos, which prevents reaching out for help.
There is a robust connection between alcohol and drug use in the active military and in male veterans. Why?
Alcohol is such an integral part of the active-duty lifestyle that it becomes ingrained into people’s lives. Unfortunately, this can unknowingly create substance abuse patterns. These patterns can follow active-duty personnel into their lives as veterans. It is important to be aware of various dynamics that can promote substance abuse issues in the military, including:
Veterans have very commonly been prescribed highly addictive drugs because they commonly suffer from severe physical injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and mental health issues due to trauma. Oftentimes, they are prescribed these drugs in very large quantities. Given the prevalence of alcohol use in the military culture, this becomes even more dangerous. The most commonly used and abused substances amongst male veterans include:
All the secondary diagnoses are closely tied to SUD and it is hard to say which came first. Most importantly, all diagnoses are addressed individually and given equal treatment time.
Male veterans very commonly have multiple co-occurring conditions with SUD. The most common ones are:
The most critical factor in ensuring success is that the veteran is involved in creating his treatment plan, and it is a plan created for him as an individual. The treatment modalities we use to fit the client’s needs are:
The dependence on alcohol to create camaraderie and reward action during active-duty sets up a very dangerous culture resulting in:
Veteran substance abuse rarely only affects the veteran. Most studies and research do not include the profound effect on family, loved ones, and society at large. But these effects are often discussed in family or group therapy. Some of these negative effects can include:
The biggest support is listening to listen rather than to reply. This is the greatest gift you can give your veteran, simply listen when he feels the need to share. Consider the following tips:
Resources can be a big challenge to veterans because the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) frequently has a backlog and cannot find beds fast enough. Actually, the same problem exists in the private sector. Some examples are:
Cost can be a challenge and recovery can be expensive, but there are even more barriers to wellness to consider:
Prevention is the best way to treat veteran drug and alcohol addiction. It can be an uphill battle due to the culture of alcohol and drug use in active duty or deployed, but service members need to be provided resources to prevent and deal with substance use disorder and other mental health issues that often develop.
It is essential that male veterans and their families feel comfortable reaching out to find the counseling needed to adjust to civilian life and recover. Military service has a profound impact on mental health and sobriety. If prevention fails, it is vital to have the tools to deal with this negative impact. Healing Pines Recovery offers an integrated approach, with several treatment types designed individually for each person.
Call Healing Pines Recovery today to learn more about our individualized treatment plans at 720-575-2621.
The first step can be the hardest. Fill out the form or call us at 720-706-7980. You will be connected with a Healing Pines Recovery specialist who can answer your questions and help you get started.