Our country's veterans are facing so many different challenges, and for them, it often seems second nature to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with their issues. In the U.S., we often tend to hold our veterans with the highest regard and in a way, we may even unknowingly see them as being immune to the problem of addiction. Because of everything they've been through, and because of the problems many of them face after their service to the country is over, they are actually much more prone to addiction than those in the civilian population.
Unfortunately, the use of prescription drugs and alcohol among this population has increased steadily. There are a number of different factors that make veterans more susceptible to drug and alcohol addiction, and it's clear that this is a problem that has been ignored for far too long.
If you are an addicted vet, it's vital for you to know that you don't have to remain addicted. Getting professional help can provide you with the support you need to recover, although you might not know where you should turn for help. At Northpoint Recovery, we've been able to provide assistance to so many veterans who all struggled with addictions. These are individuals who thought all hope for them was lost, and they assumed that they would be destined to live lives of addiction forever. Of course, getting as much information about veterans and their addictions is so important for you because it will help you to understand your condition.
It's common for veterans to believe that they are alone in their addictions. After all, drug and alcohol addiction is a very lonely condition. When you take a look at the statistics surrounding addictions in veterans, it's clear that this is certainly not an isolated problem. In fact, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) states that:
As you can see, if you're battling an addiction to any type of substance, you're certainly not alone. Addiction among veterans is incredibly common, but because of this fact, it's also important for you to know that treatment among vets is also common. Getting help for your addiction is the best way for you to recover, and this is something that should never be attempted on your own. When you get professional support, you'll find that you have access to the type of help you need to experience the freedom you're looking for.
There are a number of different reasons why someone who is a veteran might be more prone to using drugs or alcohol than a civilian. These reasons include:
By far, the biggest issues for veterans are the physical pain and PTSD. These two conditions frequently leave to self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.
For veterans, pain is a part of life for many of them. In fact, it might be more difficult to find a veteran who isn't taking some type of pain medication than it is to find one who is. Many veterans don't realize how addictive pain medications can be, and there are certainly those who become addicted to them without meaning to. The number of disabled veterans addicted to painkillers is certainly rising, and right now, there are about 650,000 veterans or members of the military who have been given opiate pain medications.
In the military, taking pain medication is often just a way of life. Veterans will often tell stories about how they came to obtain their pain meds while they were in active duty. Quite often, they didn't even come in a labeled bottle. Instead, they are given to soldiers in baggies, and they're not even sure what it was that they were taking. Military personnel quickly learn that pain medications are not only a way of life, but they are also a way to make it through the day. In some cases, they become dependent upon them for survival, and that dependence is something that doesn't cease when their time in the military comes to an end.
PTSD is a disorder that frequently afflicts veterans because of the horrors they've seen during battle. This is often referred to as battle fatigue or shellshock. When veterans have witnessed warfare, or when they've lived through traumatic or startling events, it's not uncommon for mental health issues to arise, and this can even take place years after the events occurred. For women, there is an additional concern regarding PTSD because about 23% of them have reported being victims of sexual assault during the time they were in the military.
Many veterans who have PTSD don't realize that this disorder is what they're dealing with. That means that it often goes undiagnosed. They end up using drugs and alcohol because they need them to feel better. Perhaps this is something that you're dealing with as well, but you've never really thought too much about it. It's possible that you have been dealing with mental or emotional issues for many years, but it never dawned on you that it might be an actual mental health condition that you needed to get professional help for.
There are a number of different symptoms for PTSD that you can look for in your own life. This will give you some indication as to whether or not you may be struggling with this condition, and these include:
If you have ever felt any of the above, it's very likely that you have PTSD. Also, if you're using drugs or alcohol, it's very likely that you're doing so as a way to self-medicate your condition. Even though this is quite common, that doesn't mean that this is how you should continue to live your life. You can get professional help that will allow you to overcome your addiction and treat your PTSD at the same time.
When a veteran has a co-occurring disorder, it means that the individual has an addiction, and also some other type of condition at the same time. Co-occurring disorders are common among veterans, and there are a number of different conditions that you could be suffering from alongside your addiction. These include:
At one time, it was assumed that anyone who presented with both a psychiatric condition and an addiction should be treated for each condition on separate occasions. As a result, the addiction would be treated first. The individual would go through a detox, and then possibly some type of addiction rehab. After that was completed, treatment for the underlying mental health issue would begin. It was soon found that this method of treatment was not beneficial for the patient at all, and there was a good reason for that.
However, when the conditions were treated at the same time, patients seemed to have a much easier time with their recoveries. They were also much less likely to experience a relapse down the road.
Treatment for co-occurring disorders offers veterans a much better chance of being successful with their treatment. Most veterans have a number of different reasons for their addictions, and it's important for these to be addressed so that they have the best possible outcomes.
Even though it is so important for veterans with addictions to get professional help as soon as possible, the fact remains that most of them do not. According to the United States Army only about 40% of veterans who have screened positive for substance abuse disorders and psychiatric conditions actually go on to get the help they need. That statistic doesn't even factor in those who are not getting screened but choose to hide the fact that they're struggling with addictions. It's really too bad that this is the case, but there are several barriers that veterans may perceive as being reasons why they don't get the treatment they need.
Some of these barriers include:
Of all of these barriers, the stigma that can go along with going to drug or alcohol rehab is probably the most common. There are so many negative labels associated with addiction treatment, and veterans may be afraid of these labels. They could also have a fear of being discriminated against if anyone found out they had sought professional help for an addiction.
Perhaps you can identify with one or more of these barriers because that is exactly how you have felt about getting professional treatment for an addiction. Please know that getting professional help is the best possible decision that you can make for yourself, and once you do, any reservations you might have had will quickly fade away.
As a veteran of the United States Military, it's important for you to know that you do have options when it comes to getting treated for a drug or alcohol addiction. Whereas you may have always thought that you needed to go through the VA for these types of services, that's not true at all. You can easily opt for a private rehab facility instead, and this will offer you a couple of benefits. Not only will you have a more private treatment experience, but you will also enjoy being a part of a smaller population of patients where you will get more attention.
There are a number of different options available for you, and these include:
As a veteran, you undoubtedly have health insurance, and if you don't, applying for it is very easy. It's quite common for veterans to have financial issues, and they usually think that in order to go to a private drug or alcohol rehab, they would have to pay for it out of their own pockets. This is not the case at all.
Your health insurance offers you benefits to help cover the costs of addiction treatment. This greatly minimizes any co-insurance or co-payment amounts on your part, and you might even find that your treatment is covered in full.
Perhaps you have a loved one who is a retired vet, and you're concerned about his or her addiction. However, there doesn't seem to be much you can do to help your family member get the assistance that's needed for recovery. This is a common situation, but that doesn't mean you have to watch your loved one suffer.
In your case, you may want to consider scheduling an intervention. An intervention will give you a platform that you can use to talk with your loved one about the addiction and encourage him or her to get the necessary help. They have been so beneficial for so many people.
If you're a veteran and you're battling an addiction, please be assured that the issues you're facing right now are not yours alone. There are so many veterans in the United States who are struggling just as you are. These are all men and women who have served their country faithfully. They've given they're all, and now they're suffering as a result of that. At times, it may seem as though you'll never be able to recover, and the fact is that if you attempt to try and recover from an addiction on your own, you're likely to be unsuccessful. Not only that, you're putting yourself in danger because of the risks involved with various withdrawal symptoms, and you're very apt to experience a relapse back into your drug or alcohol use. You can protect yourself against that, and give yourself a much better chance of a successful recovery when you get professional treatment, and here at Northpoint Recovery, we would be honored to assist you with that.
If you're a veteran who has an addiction, you may be convinced that all hope is lost for you. You may be wondering where you can turn for help, and we can provide you with the services you need to recover from your addiction. While it can be a little bit scary to turn from your addiction, you'll find that making this choice is the best decision you could have made for yourself. It is so rewarding to know that your addiction is no longer ruling over your life, and we'd love to help you re-learn how to live without being dependent upon drugs or alcohol.
Are you an addicted vet in need of substance abuse treatment? Please contact us to learn how you can get started with recovery.