Veterans and Substance Abuse
Substance abuse has long plagued veterans as they struggle to cope with life after service.
The U.S. military has attempted to implement educational programs on veterans and substance abuse but statistics reflect the problem is not improving.
Are you fighting a substance abuse problem? Is a veteran you love abusing drugs? Vets National Advocates is here to help. Find the resources you need to start the journey to recovery below.
How Big is the Problem?
The 2008 Department of Defense Health Behavior Survey revealed that, over time, tobacco use and illicit drug use were generally reduced among service members. Unfortunately, the same survey reported increases in other areas, such as prescription drug abuse and heavy alcohol use.
In fact, prescription drug abuse doubled among U.S. military personnel from 2002 to 2005 and almost tripled between 2005 and 2008.
Alcohol overuse may be the most common form of substance abuse among veterans and those still serving. A three to four month study that looked at Army soldiers returning from Iraq showed that 27% met clinical criteria for alcohol abuse and were at an increased risk of harmful behaviors like drinking and driving or using illicit drugs.
Substance Abuse and Co-occurring Trauma
Vets who exhibit symptoms of substance abuse typically experience a triad of co-occurring disorders. Untreated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and pain combined can put so much stress on the service member that they turn to drugs or alcohol to cope.
Veterans and Substance Abuse: What Treatment Options are Available?
Veterans struggling to overcome substance abuse should seek medical attention to determine which options are best for them individually.
Twelve-step programs have shown to be successful for some, while other veterans may find contacting a trusted friend or family member the best first option.
Exercise can also help reduce factors that may lead to substance abuse, like depression and anxiety.
It is important to remember that reaching out is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you believe you have a substance abuse problem, take the VA’s Alcohol Use Questionnaire, or contact My HealtheVet to take your first steps toward recovery.
Contact Us for Help Now
Substance abuse can permeate a veteran's life, affecting their family, social life, and most importantly, their health. If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder or addiction, you deserve help. Seeking treatment is the first step to healing.
Some veterans struggling with substance issues may be suffering from a service-connected disability and may be eligible for disability benefits. Although service-members cannot receive service-connected benefits for willful misconduct or the results of such misconduct in service, if substance abuse is the result of another service-connected condition, then you may be entitled to increased benefits.?
Vets National Advocates is here to help you on your journey to recovery by providing resources and helping with your disability claims.