Studies suggest that veterans are more likely to suffer from addiction than the general population. While the general populace may turn to drugs and alcohol for a variety of reasons, veterans often turn to substance use because of the difficulties they face at war and after they come back home, including PTSD and homelessness.
If you or a loved one is a veteran struggling with substance use or addiction, you can get treatment from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) for free. Treatment includes help with detox, addiction treatment in facilities, medication, individual and group therapy and much more.
Factors Influencing Drug Use in This Group
Stressful experiences during and after combat can cause a lot of problems for veterans. They may opt to use drugs to cope with the difficulties. PTSD has a link to drug and alcohol use. One study found that up to 80% of veterans with PTSD used alcohol and drugs. It was reported that most veterans self-medicate using drugs to deal with the symptoms of PTSD. In reality, drug use only worsens the symptoms.
Other factors, like living situations, can also influence one to use drugs. Recent research found that veterans who lived with people struggling with substance abuse were more likely to use alcohol and drugs than those suffering from depression or PTSD. On the flipside, homeless veterans may also abuse drugs and alcohol. Researchers believe that the stigma associated with being homeless contributes to substance abuse issues, making it even harder for veterans to secure jobs.
Common Substance Addictions Among Veterans
Drug and alcohol use is common among active military members. Some of the most common substance addictions among this group include:
- Alcohol: In two studies conducted in 1998 and 2008, many military members admitted to binge drinking. Combat exposure, deployment, easy access to alcohol, and the customary use of alcohol in almost all occasions in the military may all have contributed to substance abuse among veterans.
- Opioids: Opioid use has been on a steady rise among veterans. The availability and easy access to opioids has contributed to the increase in its consumption.
- Illegal drugs: While illicit drug use has sharply declined among veterans because of the random testing done in the military, some still abuse these drugs when they come out of active duty. The most commonly abused illicit drugs are heroin, cocaine and marijuana.
Barriers to Treatment of Substance Addiction Among Veterans
Some of the reasons why veterans hesitate to seek help for substance addiction include:
- Embarrassment over seeking help for substance abuse
- The stigma associated with addiction
- Lack of awareness about mental health problems
- Long waiting times with the VA
- Accessibility and affordability of care
Addiction Recovery for Veterans
Veterans have many treatment options for substance abuse through the Department of Veteran Affairs. These options are helpful for veterans looking for affordable treatment on their own. The VA offers:
- Individual counseling
- Group therapy
- Family counseling
- Inpatient and outpatient rehab
- PTSD treatment
- Detox treatment
Some veterans avoid the VA because there can be long wait times before help is available. In cases of severe PTSD and addiction, getting prompt treatment is vital, and seeking help from a reputable treatment center for veterans with PTSD is essential.
If you or a loved one is a veteran struggling with addiction, feel free to call our qualified therapists at 877-352-9566 or reach out to us on our online contact page to get the veterans substance abuse treatment you need.