Substance use disorder, addiction, and alcoholism are serious problems that affect people from all walks of life. However, one segment of the population that is highly impacted by substance misuse and substance use disorder are veterans of the United States Military. A high percentage of U.S. veterans suffer from trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), making them extremely susceptible to also suffering from addiction and alcoholism. While results from numerous studies of veterans vary, on average between 10% and 30% of veterans report dealing with a substance use disorder.
Military veterans are particularly vulnerable to drug addiction and alcoholism due to the unique challenges they face during and after their service, including working for years in high stress environments and regularly dealing with traumatic situations. Active military combat, dealing with the loss of life that often comes with military service, and difficult situations where they must stay on high alert all add to the challenges that veterans have faced. Leaving the military and the regimented lifestyle that comes with being a member of the military can also add to the difficulty that veterans face. Additionally, many veterans struggle with physical and mental health issues, including chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression, which can lead to drug misuse, addiction, and ongoing issues with alcohol.
One of the main reasons why veterans are at a higher risk of drug addiction is because of the prevalence of prescription drug use in the military. Many veterans are prescribed opioids, or prescription medications to manage chronic pain resulting from injuries sustained during their service. Unfortunately, these drugs can be highly addictive, both physically and psychologically, and many veterans find themselves dependent on them. A physical dependence to opioid pain medication while in active duty can set up a military veteran for a long battle with active addiction once their service career has ended.
Another factor that contributes to drug addiction or alcoholism in veterans is the trauma they experience during their service. Many veterans have witnessed or experienced traumatic events while in active combat, which can lead to PTSD and other mental health issues. Between 11% and 20% of veterans suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives. Additionally, over 20% of veterans report they suffer from depression, 12% of veterans suffer from anxiety disorders, and between 11% an 15% of veterans suffer from suicidal ideation. The number of veterans that think about or attempt suicide who also suffer from addiction is between 18%-30%. These conditions can be difficult to manage, and many veterans turn to drugs as a way to cope with their symptoms, which can actually make the issues worse.
The consequences of drug addiction and alcoholism in veterans can be devastating, just as they can be for anyone or any family impacted by addiction or alcoholism in the larger population. Active addiction can make mental health problems works, lead to job loss, financial problems, and strained relationships with family and friends. It can also exacerbate existing health problems and lead to new ones, such as liver damage, heart disease, and respiratory problems. Addiction and alcoholism can also lead to homelessness, which impacts veterans at a greater rate than the general population.
Fortunately, there are resources available to help veterans who are struggling with drug addiction and alcoholism. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a range of services, including substance abuse treatment programs, counseling, and support groups. These programs are designed to help veterans overcome their addiction and get their lives back on track. Veterans also can seek professional help for addiction through traditional routes of a medical detox, inpatient treatment center, residential rehab, or other programs such as an IOP or a recovery house. Many treatment centers work with both active military and veterans to provide trauma-informed care to help them overcome addiction and alcoholism and begin a journey of recovery.
As is the case when anyone suffering from drug addiction and alcoholism, it important for veterans to seek help if they are struggling. The veteran themselves, family members, or friends are encouraged to reach out for professional help. Many veterans believe, due to their unique experiences in the military, that they are dealing with issues that they won’t be able to overcome. However, a high quality detox facility and drug and alcohol rehab center will be able to provide veterans with the appropriate, trauma—informed care necessary to both help them stop their active addiction and begin addressing the underlying issues fueling their use of drugs and alcohol. Helping veterans uncover, identify, and address issues related to their addiction or alcoholism will allow them to create healthy coping mechanisms and begin a life of sustained recovery.
Here at Innovo Detox, we respect and appreciate all that our veterans have given of themselves for us and our country. We also understand the unique challenges that veterans face when also dealing with addiction and alcoholism, including trauma, mental health concerns, chronic pain issues, and the difficulties of leaving their active service life behind. We offer medical detox, withdrawal management, medical stabilization, and ongoing clinical and therapeutic support, and actively are contracted with TRICARE insurance for military members, veterans and their family members to make detox and treatment services accessible and affordable. Innovo Detox is contracted with Tricare East, Tricare West, Tricare Select, and Tricare Prime.
If you or someone you know needs help with addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at www.innovodetox.com.