The Importance of Substance and Alcohol Addiction Treatment for Veterans
- Mandy Sandhu
- 14 Feb 2022
What does patriotism mean? If there’s anyone out there who truly knows, it’s veterans.
Whether they’ve served in the military, navy, or air service, they’ve spent a significant portion of their lives on active or reserved duty. Some have even put their lives on the line or have been disabled in the process of serving and protecting their country.
Unfortunately, these patriots are also more susceptible to problematic use of alcohol and other substances. The rates are troubling and show a clear need for an effective intervention and substance and alcohol addiction treatment for veterans.
Common Causes of Addiction in Veterans
Substance and alcohol use disorders don’t happen overnight. And typically, there are several factors that cause it.
Some of these causes include:
Belonging to a family with a history of substance abuse doesn’t mean everyone in that family will suffer the same fate. However, since addiction is a genetic disorder that can be passed down from one generation to the next, it’s important to note that it does increase your risk.
Environment and upbringing also play a role in the development of addiction. If you’ve been brought up in a home with heavy drinkers or are surrounded by people who regularly misuse drugs, then it’s possible to be influenced to engage or look at alcohol and substance abuse as normal.
Anyone can suffer from a traumatic event. However, veterans are often more susceptible to loneliness, pain, and death because they’re exposed to combat and war.
Mental Health Problems
Substance use disorders (SUDs) and mental health problems are tightly linked, especially among veterans.
According to studies, veterans suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), depression, ADHD, and other mental health disorders usually have alcohol or substance abuse issues as well.
Possible Issues Veterans Face After Returning From Active Duty
The battle may be over, but these common mental illnesses will show you that veterans fight a different kind of war when they return from active duty:
1. PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Also called combat fatigue, war neurosis, and shell shock, PTSD is a disorder that can happen to anyone who has experienced a traumatic event. But the term has now been commonly used for veterans.
Because of their line of work, veterans are exposed to traumatic situations like pain, suffering, and death caused by war. Some have also suffered from military sex trauma and service injuries. All these can lead to PTSD and other mental health disorders.
Signs of PTSD Include:
- Nightmares, vivid memories, or flashbacks
- Angry outbursts
- Trouble sleeping or concentrating
- Feeling emotionally cut-off from other people
- Easily startled
The diagnosis of PTSD involves several steps. Talk to us if you want to be screened and treated for PTSD.
Veterans who have been to war don’t just sustain physical wounds, they also have less visible ones like depression and anxiety.
Combat exposure, the stress of multiple deployments, and separation from loved ones and support systems can lead to or perpetuate depression and anxiety.
Depression is a serious condition that can impact mood, behaviour, and physical functions. Some of the common signs of depression include:
- Persistent and intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness
- Loss of appetite
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Trouble performing everyday activities
- Lack of energy or fatigue
- Social isolation
- Suicidal thoughts
Feelings of isolation and hopelessness, along with concurring mental health conditions and substance abuse are all factors that can increase the risk of suicide among veterans.
Some of the warning signs of suicide are:
- Feeling trapped
- Engaging in risky activities
- Alcohol or drug misuse
- Withdrawing from family and friends
4. Problematic Use of Alcohol and Other Substances
Despite public attention on alcohol and substance use disorders among veterans, it continues to be a problem.
That’s because many veterans turn to alcohol or other substances as a coping mechanism for stress, depression, and trauma. Veterans who have been diagnosed with substance use disorder often have a concurring mental health issue.
For example, a veteran with an alcohol abuse problem might also be suffering from depression. Both conditions must be treated together, otherwise, it might lead to serious health complications down the road.
What Statistics are Saying
Let’s turn these problems into numbers:
- Between 11% to 20% of veterans who have participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom suffer from PTSD.
- Around 30 out of every 100 Vietnam veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.
- Twenty veterans commit suicide per day.
- The biggest number of veterans who die by suicide are between 55 and 74 years old.
- About 1 in 3 veterans seeking treatment for SUD also have mental health disorders.
- About 1 in 10 returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have problematic alcohol and drug use.
- Sixty-five percent of veterans entering treatment centres have alcohol use problems. That’s nearly twice the rate for civilians.
- In 2015, almost 71% of male veterans and more than 43% of female veterans used firearms to commit suicide.
Substance and Alcohol Addiction Treatment for Veterans
Clearly, these numbers show it’s imperative that more effective measures to address our veterans healthcare needs are met. This includes substance and alcohol addiction treatment for veterans.
We owe them more than just remembrance and a thank you once a year. If we couldn’t be with them when they were at war, we can be with them now.
Freedom From Addiction is a world-class rehab facility in Aurora, Ontario that has a multi-pronged approach in the treatment of PTSD, alcohol, and substance use disorders.
If you or someone you know needs to be screened and treated for PTSD, get in touch with us today.
- January 2023
- December 2022
- November 2022
- October 2022
- September 2022
- August 2022
- July 2022
- March 2022
- February 2022
- January 2022
- December 2021
- November 2021
- October 2021
- September 2021
- August 2021
- July 2021
- June 2021
- May 2021
- April 2021
- March 2021
- February 2021
- January 2021
- December 2020
- November 2020
- October 2020
- September 2020
- August 2020
- July 2020
- June 2020
- May 2020
- April 2020
- March 2020
- January 2020
- December 2019
- November 2019
- October 2019
- September 2019
- June 2019
- May 2019
- April 2019
- March 2019
- February 2019
- January 2018
- December 2017
- November 2017
- October 2017
- September 2017
- August 2017
- July 2017
- June 2017
- May 2017
- April 2017
- March 2017
- February 2017
- January 2017
- December 2016
- June 2016
- May 2016
- November 2015
- October 2015
- August 2015
- July 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014