Resources for Veterans and Service Members
The life of a United States service member comes with physical and mental challenges that can be difficult to understand for those who have never served. Attempting to cope and not seeing any help in sight, some veterans develop substance use disorders (SUD). More than 1.1 million veterans currently struggle with alcoholism or an addiction to illicit drugs. In this blog we will very briefly provide some context and resources for you to share with your clients.
Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, the U.S. Surgeon General, wrote, “Being a veteran or an active member of the military is a unique way of life that involves experiences and sacrifices by the service member and the member’s family. Military service members, veterans, and their families have needs unlike other individuals that require culturally competent approaches to treatment and services.” Factors contributing to SUD in veterans can include the following:
- Drinking/drug use culture as a part of the job
- Prescription painkiller use stemming from injuries
- Co-occurring mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
There is a correlation between substance use disorder and PTSD in particular. According to Veterans Affairs, 1 in 3 veterans with PTSD also have an SUD, while 1 in 5 veterans with an SUD also have PTSD.
Stigma makes it difficult for some veterans to get the treatment they need. We hope that by shining a light on the severity of this problem, it will make it easier for veterans with SUD and mental illness to enter treatment programs. “It was a big deal for me to enter treatment. I was so close to hitting bottom. I wasn’t sure I’d last. But I’d learned to tough it out, and that was helpful,” said Steve, an Afghanistan veteran, on his experience with the VA.
The article “A War on Home Soil for Veterans” by Arrow Passage Recovery in Ohio goes into detail on the resources available to veterans with SUD. We encourage you to read the article and share with your colleagues and patients that you think would benefit.
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