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military service and substance use disorder
November 6, 2020

Military Service and Substance Use Disorder

The disease of addiction can affect people from all walks of life, but some people are especially vulnerable to developing a problematic relationship with drugs and alcohol. Members of our armed forces are one such segment of the population. As the National Institute of Drug Abuse reports, more than one in 10 veterans has received a diagnosis of a substance abuse disorder.

With Veterans Day quickly approaching, here’s a closer look at how addiction affects military servicemembers, and how accredited drug and alcohol rehab facilities like Beach House celebrate and help veterans with year-round treatment.

PTSD and Substance Abuse Among Military Veterans

The singular stresses of their career choice can leave military veterans traumatized. They could start binge drinking or abusing drugs to temporarily ease PTSD symptoms and try to regain some control of their lives. Though anyone can experience a traumatic event that leads to PTSD, servicemembers are especially susceptible to the disorder because military life comes with challenges like deployment and combat that can fray anyone’s nerves.

If you’re a military vet living with PTSD, you know how hard it can be to live with this condition. Your symptoms might cause you to engage in addictive or otherwise risky behavior. About half of people seeking treatment for drug and alcohol abuse also meet the criteria for PTSD – a rate five times greater than that of the general population.  

The stress associated with PTSD affects your impulse control, memory and ability to learn. The majority of people without experience in mental health therapy do not have the tools to cope with these stressors, and may come to see substance abuse as the only way to temporarily dull their distress and discomfort. In the short term, drinking and drug use can shut off painful memories and help you avoid difficult emotions like guilt, but a burgeoning substance abuse problem will make your troubles worse.

Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

When someone has a substance use disorder and a mental health condition like depression or PTSD at the same time, treatment professionals refer to these combined issues as a co-occurring disorder. Because of the complex nature of these intertwined illnesses, it can be challenging to determine which came first. The two conditions fuel each other, which is why dual-diagnosis treatment that addresses both issues simultaneously is so essential. 

The overlap between PTSD and addiction symptoms can make it easier for substance abuse to continue undetected and undiagnosed. A dual diagnosis and evidence-based treatment for both conditions is necessary to help you address and heal from the effects of these combined disorders. 

Professionally managed detoxification is always an essential part of the recovery process, but it becomes even more critical for people concurrently diagnosed with trauma. Comfortable detox can help minimize the shock of having trauma symptoms return at full strength while simultaneously experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as body aches, nausea, mood swings and delirium tremens.

You’ve Served Your Country Proudly – Now Let Us Serve You 

Stigma still prevents many military veterans from seeking addiction help when they need it. Like serving in uniform, admitting you have a problem you can’t solve by yourself takes tremendous courage. Don’t let others’ misinformed prejudice stand between you and the treatment that can save your life. 

This Veterans Day, commit to renewing your health and well-being with addiction treatment at Beach House. At our beautiful, resort-like Florida campus, you’ll find a compassionate culture combined with clinical excellence practices and an industry-leading client-to-therapist ratio. We’re proud to be on Newsweek’s 2020 list of the best addiction treatment centers nationwide. To discover the difference, contact our admissions counselors anytime.