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More than 3,000 viewers tuned in for last week’s live Facebook event (December 29) hosted by Beach House Center for Recovery. The final installation for 2017 in our continuing monthly series was dedicated to the many brave veterans who, in addition to serving our country, now battle addiction and mental health issues.
Friday’s discussion was ambitious in scope, covering a wide range of questions from facilitator Micah Robbins and our live audience about the latest research into the prevention and treatment of substance abuse in veterans.
Addiction expert Dr. Nicole Rothman was the featured guest. Dr. Rothman heads the substance abuse program at West Palm Beach VA Medical Center. She is also Vice Chair of the Greater Boynton Beach Chamber of Commerce Health Care Council.
What follow are key highlights from her remarks.
Biggest Substance Abuse Trend Among U.S. Veterans
Robbins invited Dr. Rothman to share what substance abuse trends she is seeing among the veteran population and how the VA is responding. Dr. Rothman noted a growing tide of accidental heroin overdoses that has accompanied an overall increase in opiate use—a manifestation of the larger national crisis. In response, and as a preventative measure, Dr. Rothman shared that the VA is making naloxone kits available to veterans and their families.
Effective Treatments for PTSD
Given the high prevalence of PTSD among the veteran population, Robbins wanted to know what PTSD treatments, based on Dr. Rothman’s experience, have been most effective at helping vets recover from PTSD and co-occurring substance abuse. Dr. Rothman emphasized one program in particular that the VA employs: “Seeking Safety,” a time-limited therapy group that focuses on helping veterans develop coping skills specific for PTSD and substance abuse.
Why “Evidence-Based Treatment” Is More Than a Catchphrase
“Evidence-based treatment” means that “the treatments have been studied and there’s a lot of research backing their effectiveness,” according to Dr. Rothman. She was quick to share how the VA’s use of evidence-based treatments—those interventions “that are most effective” at treating addiction— has led to measurable improvements in outcome. Specifically, “as vets progress through the program and are applying the skills they’re being taught,” they are:
- Maintaining sobriety
- Avoiding high-risk situations (that are more likely to trigger an addiction relapse)
- Developing support systems within the community and VA
- Coping better with anxiety and depression
- Sleeping better
- Experiencing better overall mental health
- Improving their confidence, relationships and decision-making
Learn more about how the latest treatments for PTSD and addiction are helping returning vets find hope and recovery, in this unabridged video from the FB Live event.