For people facing addiction, every day is an uphill battle. For veterans with substance abuse problems, the road to recovery is often even more complex and arduous.
After long deployments that involve time away from their families, combat and in some cases physical injury, veterans often have a difficult time reintegrating into civilian life. Many of these men and women who serve our country experience friction with their families and lose their sense of purpose upon returning home, and several find themselves dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These factors become even more complex when considering that many military personnel have the tendency to bottle emotions and have trouble talking with loved ones about issues and problems.
As a result, substance abuse has skyrocketed among military personnel in recent years. According to the most recent Department of Defense Health Behavior Study, prescription drug and alcohol abuse doubled from 2002-2005 and tripled between 2005 and 2008, and was involved in 30% of all suicide deaths from 2003 to 2009. Even more concerning is that, although soldiers frequently report concerns about their alcohol abuse, few are actually referred to treatment.
However, resources do exist to help veterans and current military personnel. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recommends the Veterans Crisis Line as a good starting place for veterans and their families seeking help, but not sure where to turn. This organization can help military personnel across the nation locate the resources they need to help cope with their problems, whether those be mental illness, PTSD or substance abuse. Local VAs also provide in-and outpatient programs – complete with medically managed detox – tailored specifically for the unique challenges veterans face in overcoming their addictions.
Resources also exist for those concerned about their loved ones’ behavior. If you believe that a soldier or veteran you know is suffering from substance abuse, act now and reach out to your local VA to determine how to best help him or her through this challenging time.