June 6th marks the anniversary of D-Day, one of the most important military operations of the 20thCentury. The fighting saw heavy casualties, with many soldiers going on to live with physical, behavioral, and emotional wounds. Battle wounds are an unfortunate way of military life, and scar veterans even today. Veterans struggling with physical and mental wounds may seek to self-medicate with alcohol to numb the pain. Such methods can quickly spiral into addiction.
In honor of the D-Day anniversary and the veterans who serve in the military, we’re going to take a look at how addiction affects veterans, and how veterans can begin searching for treatment.
Physical Wounds and Addiction
Chronic pain is a pressing concern amongst veterans. Nearly 70% of veterans struggle with chronic pain at some point in their lives. This rate means that veterans have a 40% greater chance of suffering from chronic pain. This can be for a multitude of reasons. Combat wounds are a big reason, and could cause chronic pain for years. Mental health disorders can also create a vicious cycle, fueling chronic pain.
Veterans who struggle with chronic pain can be susceptible to addiction. Those who are prescribed opioid painkillers are at risk for drug addiction. While opioids can be effective if taken properly and in accordance with a treatment plan. However, if taken inappropriately, prescription painkiller abuse can lead to opioid addiction. Further, if a veteran’s pain medication is not work, they may seek to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs, possibly starting down the road to addiction.
Mental Health Disorders and Addiction
Mental health disorders may also drive veterans into addiction. Due to the dangers of military life, such as combat wounds, veterans are more susceptible to certain types of mental health disorders. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most well-known mental health disorders that affect veterans. The Veteran’s Association (VA) estimates that, depending on the war, between 10 and 20 percent of veterans struggle with PTSD.
Additionally, veterans may struggle with other mental health disorders. Depression and anxiety tend to be common amongst veterans. Veterans who have difficulty readjusting to civilian life after returning from service may struggle with feelings of loneliness and isolation. These feelings can fuel alcohol consumption, worsening any potential for alcoholism.
Veterans and Addiction Recovery
One of the best options for veterans struggling with addiction is to attend a veterans recovery program. These programs are usually evidence-based treatment, designed to help veterans overcome alcohol addiction. Many veterans addiction recovery programs may offer treatment for co-occurring disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
American Addiction Centers prides itself on its veterans recovery program, Salute to Recovery. Available at Desert Hope in Nevada and Recovery First in Fort Lauderdale, Salute to Recovery is designed to treat substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. Most of the Salute to Recovery staff are veterans or related to veterans, helping them connect to the veterans receiving treatment.
Regardless of where you end up for treatment, know that there is help for veterans. A sober life, a life in recovery, is possible for veterans.