A large number of veterans live with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition to seeing distressing things and experiencing various forms of trauma, many veterans face challenges trying to adjust back to civilian life after returning home from deployment. Unfortunately, many veterans turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with these difficulties.
According to the Veteran’s Administration, 20 percent of veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom develop PTSD in a given year. Approximately 30 percent of Vietnam War vets have had PTSD in their lifetime. Sadly, more than 20 percent of veterans with PTSD also struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Luckily, there are plenty of actions you can take and a number of resources you can use to help your veteran loved one find and choose the right addiction treatment program.
The Connection Between Veterans and Addiction
Your veteran loved one isn’t the only veteran struggling with addiction challenges. Unfortunately, the connection between veterans and substance abuse is quite common. Serving in the military is extremely stressful, especially for individuals deployed to combat zones. Life in the military can be uncertain, violent, and lonely. In addition to that, soldiers have to frequently deal with sudden changes, distrust, and fear of the unknown, which can often lead to medical conditions like insomnia. Leaving the military and returning to civilian life can be another challenge for veterans. Chronic pain, injuries, PTSD, depression, mental health challenges, and traumatic memories are some of the many reasons veterans often struggle with addiction.
Your veteran loved one might have turned to drugs or alcohol to help cope with other life challenges, including:
- Unemployment. Military occupations and training don’t always transfer into the civilian workforce. This puts many veterans at a disadvantage when applying for jobs and competing for employment. Finding work for veterans can also be hard if they’re dealing with PTSD symptoms such as agitation, irritability, hostility, flashbacks, or social isolation. Unfortunately, about 1 in 6 unemployed Americans find themselves turning to drugs or alcohol, which is nearly twice the rate of full-time workers.
- Homelessness. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there are approximately 40,056 homeless veterans in American on any given night. The lack of affordable housing, along with unemployment issues and the lingering effects of PTSD, leaves many veterans displaced and homeless.
- Prolonged separation from loved ones. Research shows that being separated from friends and family can negatively impact our wellbeing. This is especially true for veterans who repeatedly leave family and friends for extended periods of time. Loneliness, boredom, or feeling neglected, unloved, or misunderstood can cause many veterans to use addictive substances like drugs and alcohol.
What to Look For In Addiction Treatment for Veterans
When you’re looking for the right addiction treatment program for your veteran loved one, there are a couple of things you should prioritize in your search.
A Dual Diagnosis Program
- Most veterans turn to substance use to help deal with underlying issues that are often caused by unresolved mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, or terrifying flashbacks. Dual diagnosis programs help treat mental health and addiction challenges. By seeking out recovery centers that have dual diagnosis treatment programs, you’re making sure your loved one gets help for their substance use issues and the underlying issues that may have contributed to their addiction.
A Treatment Center that Incorporates Trauma Therapy
- Your veteran loved one has potentially seen more disturbing things and experienced more traumatic events than you know about. That unresolved trauma may be driving them to compulsively consume drugs and alcohol. Luckily, trauma therapy can help your loved one heal from the trauma they’ve experienced. Here at Genesis Recovery, our trauma therapy program includes 3 different types of evidence-based therapies designed to help individuals rewire their brain, overcome painful memories, and heal from past traumas: eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), cognitive restructuring, and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).
A Community-Focused Recovery Center
- Most veterans thrive in and enjoy community. During their deployments, soldiers live together, serve together, work together, experience combat together, and sleep in close quarters together. The comrades your veteran loved one served with became a surrogate family. Returning home often separates that surrogate family. But you can help restore your loved one’s passion for community by seeking out a recovery center that emphasizes community. Here at Genesis Recovery, we’re blessed to have a large faith-based recovery community. Our residents enjoy events, work toward recovery, participate in 12-step meetings, and volunteer in the community together.
A Rehab Center That Accepts Veteran’s Administration Insurance
- Veterans who served in the United States Army and other branches of the military may be eligible for benefits from the Veteran’s Administration. These benefits can help cover the costs of alcohol and drug rehabilitation. As you search for the right addiction treatment for your veteran loved one, ask various recovery centers if they work with or accept insurance through the Veteran’s Administration.
Recovery Resources for Military Veterans
You can also help your loved one utilize the benefits they have through the Veteran’s Administration (VA). You can help them seek treatment for substance abuse by talking to their primary VA healthcare provider, contacting the nearest veteran center, or by calling the VA’s general information hotline.
Some of the rehab resources available to you and your veteran loved one include the:
- Veteran’s Administration Online Substance Use Disorder Program Locator
- VA’s general information hotline at 1 (800)-827-1000
- VA Community Resource and Referral Centers
- VA Medical Centers
- Addiction treatment centers sponsored by the Veteran’s Administration
If your veteran loved one served in a combat zone, they can receive free private counseling, get an alcohol and drug assessment, and other support at one of the 300 community veteran centers located near you.
If your veteran loved one is at risk of becoming homeless, you can call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at (877) 424-3838 for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A trained VA counselor can tell you about the VA homeless programs and health care services available in your area. The call is free and confidential.
Trauma-Focused Therapy with Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Here at Genesis Recovery, we are especially passionate about helping veterans who have served our country.
- Our dual diagnosis program can help your loved one get the substance abuse treatment and mental health help they need.
- Our trauma-focused therapy program can help your loved one better manage symptoms of PTSD and heal from past trauma.
- Our community-based approach will help your loved one know that they are never alone.
Let us help you get your veteran loved one on the path to recovery. Contact us today if you’re interested in learning more about our recovery services.