Alcohol Abuse Among Veterans

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The graphic explains the causes of PSTD and substance abuse among veterans.

Alcohol and PTSD are common conditions that can negatively impact the lives of veterans. These conditions can impair their ability to engage in social and professional relationships. Heavy drinking can further exacerbate both of these conditions. 

In addition to mental health issues, alcohol abuse can lead to additional social concerns, such as homelessness. Though progress has been made in ending veteran homelessness, approximately 40,000 veterans were experiencing homelessness in 2017, with 15,000 living on the streets. The Recovery Team is one of the best options in the United States that offer drug rehab treatment to our national heroes. 

PTSD and Substance Abuse Causes in Veterans

Co-occurring PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and heavy alcohol use disorder are two costly public health issues for our nation’s veterans and active-duty military personnel. Traumatic events cause both, and unique characteristics of military life may contribute to the development of these disorders. 

Understanding the factors contributing to co-occurring PTSD and AUD in the military and veteran populations is critical. PTSD and alcohol abuse can be closely related, as both conditions often cause the afflicted to seek solace in alcohol and drugs. While these two conditions can be challenging to treat separately, they can create a devastating impact when combined. 

Both effects are often so intense that they can cause the afflicted to withdraw from life. Diagnosis of PTSD among military veterans is essential to save their life. We are here to help veterans cope with PTSD and SUD problems in The Recovery Team.

Why do Veterans fall into Substance Abuse?

The incidence of substance use disorder among active-duty service members is approximately 11 percent and is higher among veterans. Alcohol use disorder is even more prevalent among veterans who served in conflict zones. Additionally, veterans with mental illness or alcohol abuse disorders are at a higher risk of suicide.

Psychiatric Disorders

Substance abuse among veterans can be caused by various factors, including the difficult transition from military to civilian life. The psychological trauma veterans may lead them to use alcohol or other substances to cope with their pain. In addition, veterans may become dependent on prescribed medications that can be highly addictive. For these reasons, it is critical to seek help early.

Prescription Medications Marijuana

PTSD and substance abuse are common among veterans. It is not uncommon for them to develop addictions to prescription medications and marijuana. Many of these drugs can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of comparable prescription drugs. Even veterans with legitimate medical issues often turn to alcohol for coping.

Co-Occurring Disorders in Veterans: Statistics

Veterans are at higher risk for co-occurring disorders such as alcohol abuse and mental health problems than the general population. According to the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study, one in 15 veterans had a substance abuse disorder. From 2003 to 2013, the number of veterans with comorbid conditions tripled. This problem is prevalent in men, but addiction can also affect women.

Veteran substance abuse is a national problem. According to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 26 percent of veterans surveyed used illicit drugs, and 80 percent had abused alcohol. Of these veterans, 7.7 percent had both a substance abuse disorder and PTSD. Research identifies misuse of prescription drugs among active duty service members ranging from 2 percent to 17 percent. Veterans with alcohol abuse problems and PTSD are at a greater risk for suicide than other veterans.

Side Effects of Alcohol Abuse Among Veterans

In addition, alcohol misuse among veterans is associated with an increased risk of relationship and aggression problems, homelessness, and criminal justice involvement.

Alcohol and drug abuse in veterans hurt the military and their families and friends. Despite the apparent dangers of alcoholism, too few veterans go to a treatment facility. Only half of the veterans seek help for mental health conditions, including alcohol addiction.

Addiction among veterans can stem from many different causes, including a difficult transition back to civilian life, chronic pain, and emotional struggles. Moreover, many veterans have PTSD, a mental health disorder that develops after wartime trauma. Substance abuse among veterans can worsen the symptoms of PTSD, which can make the condition even more challenging. Some of the severe symptoms are:

  • Depression
  • Flashbacks
  • Sleeping disorders like nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • High-risk behavior deaths
  • Behavioral disorder

Why Unemployment Is Higher Among Veterans?

Veterans often suffer from co-occurring mental health disorders and alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse worsens these mental health conditions and often leads to more drinking. It can even lead to loss of employment from showing up late or failing to fulfill necessary obligations at work. 

Approximately four out of five veterans who suffer from alcoholism or other substance use disorders are unemployed. These individuals need treatment to get on the path to recovery.

Treatment Options to Treat Addiction in Veterans

Substance use disorders are common among veterans and are expensive to treat. Veterans have higher rates of diagnosed disorders and lower rates of treatment than non-veterans. The Recovery Team has several treatment programs for alcohol abuse among veterans. Some of these programs use medication to cure addiction, while others use various forms of therapy to treat the underlying cause.

The program combines medical care with social, vocational, and rehabilitation services. Veterans can also access self-help groups that offer recovery support. Many private and state-funded programs are available to help veterans overcome alcohol and drug addiction.

Benefits of Inpatient or Residential Rehab for Veterans

Veterans struggling with substance abuse problems may find treatment at an inpatient drug & alcohol rehab to be an ideal solution. Most of these programs offer specialized services to veterans, such as veterans-only programming. While the programs vary slightly, they all work towards the same goal – helping veterans stop seeking and using substances.

Substance abuse among veterans is a severe problem for many people, but inpatient drug and alcohol rehab for veterans can be a highly beneficial option for addressing these issues. PTSD is a common comorbidity among veterans, and more than two out of ten also suffer from substance use disorder. In particular, war veterans are more likely to binge drink than non-combatants. Bad memories of combat trauma may trigger these binges.

Inpatient Treatment Process

The inpatient treatment process includes a self-assessment, which can take as little as five minutes and consists of 11 yes/no questions about substance abuse. Treatment at our facility also provides group sessions and daily check-in sessions. This process is completely confidential and free. The treatment program includes therapeutic activities designed to help the veteran develop skills to deal with triggers and prevent relapse. We also provide emotional support with the coping mechanism to treat drug use disorder.

Residential Rehab Program

A typical residential rehab includes 24-hour programming with a team of medical, counseling, and peer support. Individual sessions are usually scheduled once a week, with group sessions taking place up to five times daily. The goal is to help veterans break the cycle of seeking substances and using them. Different rehabs offer different intensity levels and accommodations for family life and work.

The most effective treatment programs for veterans have a team of trained staff that understand their unique needs and nuances. Our staff members in a veterans’ program are either veterans themselves or have a loved one who is. This allows individuals to connect with and support other veterans in the program. The program often has peer therapy, where veterans will participate in sessions alongside other veterans with similar issues.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the VA disability rating for alcohol abuse?

The VA defines alcohol abuse as excessive use of alcohol. People who drink excessively have a higher risk of developing PTSD, making alcoholism a severe issue. This illness is also more common among veterans. More than one in ten veterans have a substance use disorder.

The VA would not give a veteran disability rating for alcohol abuse if the alcohol abuse were the result of willful misconduct. The VA defines willful misconduct as “conscious wrongdoing or knowingly engaging in an illegal activity.” If a veteran is convicted of willful misconduct, they will be denied compensation or a pension.

Can veterans get a disability for alcoholism?

VA disability law does not directly service-connect alcoholism but recognizes alcoholism as a secondary condition to a service-connected medical condition. For example, a veteran with PTSD may become a heavy drinker to cope with the disorder’s symptoms. A few years later, the veteran might develop liver disease due to alcohol abuse. The veteran may be eligible for secondary VA benefits for liver disease.

While alcoholism is not a service-connected disability, it can be secondary to another mental health condition, such as cirrhosis. Additionally, alcoholism can be a precursor to other disorders, such as PTSD or sleep disorders.

Does VA pay for substance abuse treatment?

The VA will cover addiction treatment for veterans who meet specific criteria. The primary care provider will assess whether a patient has substance use disorder or other health issues and can refer them to appropriate services. They can also provide support to the patient. For help finding a treatment center, the VA offers a substance abuse program finder.

The treatment program will involve individual or group therapy. The VA will pay for an intensive outpatient program for veterans who cannot afford to go to a hospital or treatment center. The outpatient program is typically less intensive than an inpatient program. Therapy includes individual or group behavioral therapy. The VA does not cover all costs for substance abuse treatment, so there are several ways to pay for the treatment yourself.

Veteran Friendly Treatment for Substance Abuse With the Recovery Team

Inpatient rehab programs focus on stabilizing the patient and building a solid foundation for recovery. The process involves a collaborative effort between the patient and the treatment team. Aftercare plans are customized for each patient and developed with an addiction specialist’s help. These programs may include specialty group therapies focused on relapse prevention, chronic pain, and co-occurring disorders.

Reach out to Recovery Team to get the best drug and alcohol rehab in Florida. We offer detox and counseling services, including individual and group counseling, family therapy, and ongoing maintenance programs. To maintain long-term sobriety, veterans move towards our counseling programs and support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. 

Our counselors are here to provide you with motivation and a comfort zone so that you learn to live an addiction-free life. We offer evidence-based treatment for PTSD to help veterans. Get more information about our services by calling us at (800) 817-1247.