Veterans And Addiction

July 11, 2017

Our veterans are some of the bravest souls in the country--and as such, don't they deserve our help as they battle their addiction struggles?

Unless you are a veteran yourself, you really have no idea how stressful and dangerous life in the military can be. This is true even for personnel who have never seen combat. As such, this article will discuss how their battle experience can leave long-lasting trauma, making them especially vulnerable to addiction, as well as their options to get the help that they need.


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Veterans and addiction

Veterans with substance abuse problems, in particular, are reluctant to seek out the addiction help that they need. They could be living in denial, or they are embarrassed about their situation. The brave men and women that served our country in the armed forces definitely deserve to be respected and cared for, even those who have fallen to the pangs of addiction.


Why is having an addiction so prevalent among veterans?

When you stop and think about the disciplined lives that soldiers lead, it may seem quite shocking to discover that addiction rates are so high. But once you try to see things from the perspective of a veteran, you would begin to understand what these brave souls have been through. The following are common reasons why veterans end up addicts and are in need of addiction help.

  1. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is, without a doubt, the biggest reason many veterans turn to drugs or alcohol. It's simply impossible to expect veterans who have been exposed to battle conditions to instantly adjust to civilian life again. Many veterans end up turning to drugs or alcohol to calm themselves and to help them get to sleep at night. Many veterans with severe PTSD won't stop at just self-medicating before bed; they will start using medication throughout the day.

    Did you know that roughly 10 percent of veterans returning from active duty end up with PTSD? In this light, you don't have to be embarrassed if you end up with an addiction due to PTSD. This all the time and shows just how stressful combat can be on the human psyche. You don't have to be ashamed because this happens all the time to other people.
  1. Another major cause of addiction for veterans is self-medication to treat chronic pain. Many veterans suffer various injuries in the line of duty and these injuries can lead to long-term pain and even disability. Tired of living with pain, some veterans turn to prescription opiates in order to get them some relief. Unfortunately, opiates are highly addicting and once you get used to taking them for an extended period of time, it can be very difficult to kick that habit.

    Making matters even worse is that doctors today are prescribing opiates at far greater levels than in the past. With so many of these highly addictive drugs out there, it really doesn't take that much imagination to understand what our veterans go through. Here is a video from Fox News explaining why opiate addiction is so high among our veterans:


What should I do if I have an addiction and need veteran medical help?

If you have reached a point in your life where you are ready to accept responsibility and admit you have an addiction problem, then you have taken that all-important first step. But what should you do next? One option would be to talk to your doctor, tell them what is going on, and then ask them for help. They will usually be more than happy to provide you with a list of addiction help centers so that you can get the care you need. It's also a good idea to speak to close friends and family members since their emotional support can mean a lot when you are struggling to overcome your addiction.

One of the biggest resources out there for veterans that need addiction help is the Department of Veterans Affairs. They are given benefits in return for their service, and one of those benefits is care services at a VA hospital. VA hospitals offer high-quality care at a discounted price to veterans. On top of that,  dealing with doctors who treat military personnel on a regular basis means they are well-versed and experienced in dealing with veterans as well.


As a veteran, should I check into an inpatient facility or an outpatient rehabilitation facility?

Once you realize that you need addiction help, the next thing you need to consider is whether or not you should check into an inpatient facility or if you should be treated in an outpatient program.

While there are many appealing aspects to an outpatient drug and alcohol rehab facility, this isn't the right choice for everyone. If you feel that you may waver in your commitment to kicking your habit, or if your addiction is pretty severe, then you really should be treated in an inpatient facility. Inpatient rehab facilities offer a higher level of care, monitoring, and therapy for addicts who need help overcoming their addiction.

While being locked away from friends and family for a lengthy period of time may not be appealing, keep in mind that once you have recovered, you will be in a much better state of mind and health that will enable you to strengthen your bonds with these people. You need to take the time to prioritize yourself and your needs because if you keep walking down the path you are on, it will certainly ruin your life.

The Author | Jeffery Knight
Jeff is a Husband and father two. He calls southern california his home, and enjoys spend relaxing weekends with his family. View More Post from Jeffery Knight