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Substance Abuse in the Military

an adult man sits hunched over in distress while talking to therapist about substance abuse in the military

Many veterans today struggle with substance use, both during their time in the military and after service comes to an end. Addiction treatment for military members and veterans is the most effective way of getting them help.

Unlike more general treatment programs, a veteran’s addiction treatment program addresses the reasons for substance use that relate directly to their military service. The use of drugs and alcohol in the military is a serious, ongoing issue that leaves veterans struggling with addiction once service comes to an end.

Woodland Recovery Center offers substance use treatment programs designed specifically for veterans. We work with veterans and their families to get coverage approval through Veterans Affairs.

Our programs connect those who have served to a community of peers in recovery who understand how substance abuse in the military can easily end in addiction. Call 662.222.2989 today to learn more about substance use treatment for veterans at Woodland Recovery Center.

Veterans Face Unique Challenges

Overall, substance use among veterans occurs at a higher incidence than among people in the civilian population. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), one in ten veterans struggles with substance use after returning to civilian life.

Some factors that impact veteran substance use are related to leaving military service. The return to a civilian lifestyle brings unique challenges, such as:

  • Homelessness
  • Difficulty finding employment
  • Loss of the structure of military life
  • Loss of companionship
  • Challenges with reintegrating into civilian society
  • Challenges with readjusting to family relationships
  • Mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD

Factors like these can contribute to addiction among veterans. However, substance use often begins during—not after—military service.

Understanding Substance Abuse in the Military

Substance use among veterans is often related to traumatic warzone experiences and the development of PTSD. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that one in three veterans who seek substance use treatment also struggle with PTSD. However, trauma is only one of many reasons for the high rate of substance use in the military.

Alcohol Abuse in the Military

Alcohol use in the military may be the single largest substance use issue in the armed forces. Alcohol is both legal and socially acceptable. This means that it is easy to access, and military personnel feels less pressure to hide its use.

Members of the military use alcohol for bonding, hazing, and stress relief. Alcohol consumption is also a common way to lessen the emotional impact of factors like distance from family and high-stress warzone experiences.

In particular, binge drinking is a common practice in the military. According to NIDA, one in three service members reports engaging in binge drinking, which can greatly increase the risk of becoming addicted to alcohol.

Drug Abuse in the Military

Illicit drug use is another major issue in the military, with many members having faced serious penalties for engaging in it. A positive drug test can bring criminal charges and a dishonorable discharge.

As a result, military personnel are far less likely to self-report drug use. In turn, that makes it harder to get an accurate picture of just how common drug abuse in the military is.

Aside from alcohol, opioids are the substance most used by military members. Opioids are often prescribed to treat injuries suffered due to military duties, and an opioid prescription can quickly lead to dependence and addiction.

Discover Addiction Treatment for Military Members and Veterans at Woodland Recovery Center

Veterans endure unique life experiences, both during their time in the military and after returning to civilian life. For a substance use program to be effective, it needs to be designed to understand and address the challenges veterans face.

The veterans addiction treatment program at Woodland Recovery Center places veterans into a community of peers. Our programs are designed to explore the factors during and after military life that lead to substance use. And we work with Veterans Affairs to ensure that every veteran has access to the benefits they need.

Contact us at 662.222.2989 to learn more about substance abuse in the military and substance use treatment for veterans at Woodland Recovery Center.