Addiction in Veterans
Active-duty service members and veterans have higher rates of alcohol and prescription and illicit drug abuse. Many of these people have undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Why Do Veterans Use Drugs and Alcohol
Many people who serve in the United States military or are veterans struggle with dependence. Fortunately, several treatment options for addiction in veterans and active military members are available.
PTSD and Addiction in Veterans
Many veterans suffering from dependence also have PTSD.
Although combat is the most common cause of PTSD, veterans may develop the disorder as a result of sexual abuse. Approximately 23% of female veterans have reported being sexually assaulted while serving in the military.
- Memory issues
- a lack of self-esteem
- Sleeping difficulties
- Relationship difficulties
- Self-destructive behavior (self-harm or substance abuse)
People who have PTSD have a more difficult time overcoming dependence than those who do not.
Addiction treatment programs that address both PTSD and addiction are the most effective for veterans.
Prescription Medications and Veteran Addiction
Anxiety medications, many of which are highly addictive, are frequently prescribed to veterans with PTSD. Some doctors prescribe non-addictive antidepressant medications such as Zoloft or Paxil to lower the risk of addiction. Even veterans who do not have PTSD can become addicted to pain relievers prescribed for combat-related injuries.
- Pain relievers (Lortab, Vicodin, OxyContin)
- Benzodiazepines (Ativan, Valium, Xanax)
- Sedatives (Ambien, Lunesta)
- Beta Blockers (Inderal, Cardicor, Tenormin)
Alcohol and Illegal Drugs in the Military
Few service members take the risk of using illegal drugs in the military because it can result in a dishonorable discharge. Drinking, on the other hand, is an ingrained part of military culture that often carries over into civilian life. All too often, veterans and service members who self-medicate with alcohol develop an addiction.
This is advantageous for veterans who may be unable to find an affordable treatment program on their own.
The VA provides:
- Counseling on a one-to-one basis
- Family therapy Group therapy
- PTSD treatment
- Outpatient/Inpatient Rehabilitation
- Withdrawal medication
Some veterans avoid the VA when seeking medical care because it can take a long time to receive treatment. In cases of severe PTSD or addiction, receiving immediate treatment is critical, and seeking treatment outside of the VA can be beneficial. There are numerous qualified treatment centers for addicted veterans with underlying PTSD.
If you are a veteran struggling with an addiction, contact us today. We are here to help you find the right inpatient rehab to treat your addiction and any co-occurring disorder.