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Why Many Veterans Struggle with Substance Abuse

A veteran talking about veterans and substance abuse

Many veterans struggle with substance use disorders. Addiction develops for some during their time in the military, while others don’t develop a substance use disorder until after they’ve finished serving. A veterans addiction treatment program in Southaven, MS, addresses the unique factors contributing to veteran substance misuse.

Woodland Recovery Center’s veterans’ support program helps veterans overcome substance use disorders. Give us a call today at 662.222.2989 to learn more about the connection between veterans and substance abuse. Our veterans’ support program is available to all who have served and are serving our country.

Why Veterans Struggle with Drugs and Alcohol

There is no simple answer to the question of why veterans struggle with drugs and alcohol. Data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates that around one in ten veterans struggle with substance abuse. A key reason for the correlation between veterans and substance abuse lies in how military lifestyles and experiences differ from civilian life.

Difficulty Adjusting to Civilian Life

Even spending just a few years in the military can have lifelong implications for veterans’ overall well-being when they transition back to civilian life. Veterans who have spent most of their adult years in military service may face even more significant obstacles when service ends.

Some of the most common difficulties veterans face when they leave the service include the following:

  • Financial hardship
  • Difficulty finding employment
  • Lack of work history relevant to employment opportunities
  • Difficulty accessing benefits
  • Lack of civilian friendships
  • Emotional distance from family members

After years in the military, it can be difficult—or even impossible—to transition back into a civilian lifestyle.

Mental and Emotional Health Concerns

Veterans are at high risk of experiencing mental and emotional health concerns. For many veterans, experiences in the military continue to take a toll on mental health even years later.

Returning veterans often struggle with family relationships damaged by long absences. Friends and family may not understand the experiences they’ve had.

When concerns like these are compounded by finances or physical health issues, mental and emotional health often take a hit. Substance use can become a way of coping with difficult or unwanted thoughts and feelings.

Untreated Trauma

It’s no secret that military experiences can be traumatizing. From service in war zones to sexual assault in the military, many veterans return home with unprocessed trauma. Untreated trauma can easily develop into PTSD.

Common signs that a veteran would benefit from trauma treatment include:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling numb
  • Extreme emotional reactions
  • Startling easily
  • Lack of interest in relationships or activities

Untreated trauma directly impacts all areas of life. Many individuals cope with trauma by using substances, which often leads to developing a substance use disorder.

The Need for Substance Abuse Treatment Designed for Veterans

The transition from military to civilian life is a profound change that can seriously affect a veteran’s mental and emotional well-being. The struggle with adapting to a new routine can sometimes lead to substance use as a coping mechanism. In such instances, it’s crucial for veterans to have access to a high-quality addiction treatment program that is tailored to their specific needs.

However, the effectiveness of these treatment programs can vary greatly. While there are many addiction treatment options available, most are designed with the general population in mind, focusing on the common factors that contribute to addiction among civilians. These may not fully address the unique challenges faced by veterans, whose experiences can be vastly different.

Military service demands extraordinary sacrifices, including prolonged separation from loved ones, exposure to combat, and the intense camaraderie of unit life. Upon leaving the service, veterans often confront significant challenges such as re-integrating into family life, finding employment, and sometimes dealing with physical injuries or post-traumatic stress.

An effective addiction treatment program for veterans must therefore offer a comprehensive approach that acknowledges and addresses these unique factors. It should provide not only medical and psychological support but also assistance with the broader transition to civilian life, ensuring a holistic path to recovery.

Support for Veterans at Woodland Recovery Center

Woodland Recovery Center understands the challenges faced by veterans and their loved ones. Our support program for veterans exists to help reduce the connection between veterans and substance abuse.

To learn more about getting help for yourself or a loved one, call us at 662.222.2989 or use our online contact form and ask about veterans’ addiction treatment at Woodland Recovery Center.