Veterans and Addiction Treatment

Veterans have unique risks for addiction and other mental health challenges for the following reasons:

  • Extended time away from loved ones can cause depression, anxiety or other emotional distress
  • Exposure to combat can cause posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Alcohol and drug abuse are common in the military
  • Readjusting to life at home can be emotionally difficult
  • Unemployment after service can be traumatic
  • Chronic pain from service-related accidents can lead to painkiller abuse

In addition to these risks, many veterans find it difficult to seek help. Strength and discipline are celebrated virtues in the armed services, so many veterans think that attending rehab indicates weakness.

However, no soldier in her right mind would think twice about seeking treatment for a gunshot wound or a disease like cancer, but they see the disease of addiction differently. The truth is that addiction is often a direct result of service, not at all an indication of weakness.

Addiction Recovery for Veterans

Physicians and mental health experts understand the unique experiences that veterans face, so they often oversee veterans’ rehab programs. While the principles of recovery remain the same regardless of a person’s military service, a special sensitivity to veterans’ concerns increase the comfort of retired soldiers who seek treatment. Such care also increases the likelihood of success.

The following therapeutic can help veterans recover from addiction:

  • Support group meetings with fellow veterans
  • Family counseling and education
  • Medically supervised detox that reduces withdrawal symptoms
  • Special relaxation and stress management skills
  • Individual counseling
  • Adventure therapy when appropriate (hiking, camping, rafting, climbing and etc.)
  • Arts therapy
  • Opportunities to help others

While inpatient programs are important starting points for treatment, recovery continues for months or even years afterward through ongoing aftercare. It can take more time for veterans to overcome addiction if they have psychological conditions as well as drug abuse, but with the proper help it is definitely possible to recover from drug abuse and psychological distress.

As a veteran, you have already sacrificed greatly for your country—addiction is a battle wound, and you deserve the best possible treatment for it.