The rate of substance abuse in the military continues to peak due to a myriad of reasons. Men and women who have dedicated their lives to service often find themselves struggling with the effects of addiction, especially those who have been on peacekeeping missions. The fact is that veteran problems often begin with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other physical and mental health conditions before it deteriorates into an addiction.
What Are The Reasons For High Addiction Rate Among Veterans?
Men and women in the military are exposed to a lot of traumatic experiences and great losses, especially while on missions. Those who have been in combat may return with life-long bone or tissue injuries, post-traumatic stress disorders, and co-occurring disorders such as anxieties, insomnia, depression, and others.
Some veterans who may have lost brothers-in-arms while on the field live with the memories and often have trouble adjusting to a normal life. These events trigger certain physical and mental health conditions, which push veterans to go into impulsive misuse of drugs and other substances such as prescription drugs, alcohol, and others. Misuse of these substances can easily lead to addictions when used frequently.
Alcohol and Drugs In The Army
The military offers high-risk culture when deployed to various locations. Sometimes men and women may be posted to dangerous localities under extremely cold weather conditions, which may require doing anything possible to stay warm. These conditions may prompt incessant drinking to stay warm.
Some veterans increase the use of drugs and other substances after service in order to reduce the effects of PTSD and other underlying health problems.
According to veteran statistics, 3.5% of veterans admitted to using marijuana, while 1.7% used other illicit drugs within a month. The Veterans Health Administrated reported an over 50% increase in the use of marijuana by veterans from the year 2002 to 2009. Another government report showed that at least 10% of veterans on admission at a veteran rehab center used heroin and cocaine.
4% of members on active duty in 2015 were reported to have misused a prescription medication in the previous year. In 2009 the military reported to have issues 3.8 million pain medication prescriptions, the number of prescriptions quadrupled in 2001
Drug use in the military often begins with prescription medications such as opioids and then escalates to addiction. Alcohol abuse in the military is also widespread and cuts across both active duty members and veterans.
In 2017, the National Survey on Drug Use reported increased veteran alcohol abuse in about 65% of veterans that enrolled in treatment programs. Veteran alcohol treatment is a top priority as exposure to traumatic drinking drives many to severe health problems and concomitant use with illicit drugs.
There are VA inpatient substance abuse programs that cater to veterans who are battling with addiction to alcohol and drugs. These facilities ensure the proper reintegration of veterans with substance abuse disorder and other underlying health conditions like PTSD, physical impediments, and various mental disorders.
How is Veteran PTSD Connected to Addiction?
Post-traumatic stress disorder can be caused by certain experiences that can be considered as tragic or frightening. In PTSD, these events are re-lived over and over again in the mind of the person. Veterans often experience PTSD in their line of duty. It’s not so easy to determine how many veterans have PTSD; however, there are symptoms that can determine if a veteran is living with PTSD. Veterans with PTSD are likely to exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
● Memory issues
● Poor concentration
● Loss of hope
● Aggression and self-harm
● Flashback memories
● Low self-esteem
Veterans turn to substances that may change their moods, help them with pains, or help them forget certain memories. These substances are often addictive and inevitably lead to addiction.
How Can Veterans Be Treated?
Unlike civilians, veterans have a good number of options. Finding help for veterans with PTSD has been made easy. Those who cannot afford the traditional outpatient and inpatient veteran rehab program can confirm their eligibility for a government-funded treatment program, especially for veterans. The Veterans administration rehab is a unique treatment option set up by the Department of veteran affairs to provide quality and affordable treatment for veterans suffering from substance abuse disorder.
If you or your loved one is a veteran suffering from addiction and substance abuse disorder, contact us immediately.