Substance use disorders affect more than two in every 10 United States military veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Many veterans with PTSD may have experienced or been exposed to terrible, life-threatening situations in combat that caused their PTSD. Substance abuse tends to be more common among veterans compared to other populations, since these individuals may try using drugs and alcohol to cope with and relieve PTSD symptoms.
The coexistence of a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder like PTSD is known as a dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorders. Veterans who suffer from co-occurring disorders can be safely treated for both disorders at drug and alcohol rehab.
Below are statistics surrounding drug abuse among veterans and information on what you can do if you or a loved one needs help recovering from addiction.
Nearly 1 in 3 Veterans Treated for Addiction Have PTSD
Co-occurring disorders can be treated synonymously at drug rehab so veterans can experience a full recovery and benefit from a reduced risk for relapse. Addiction treatment will include drug or alcohol detox, along with dual diagnosis therapies that address both PTSD and addiction. Medications may be used as part of drug detox and PTSD therapy to reduce withdrawal symptoms along with overlapping psychological symptoms of depression and anxiety.
30% of Suicides Among Veterans Are Preceded by Drug Use
Alcohol and drug abuse affect the brain in ways that alter brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine to increase the risk for mental health disorders like depression. Depression is also a common symptom of PTSD. Veterans who suffer from depression on behalf of co-occurring addiction and PTSD face a higher risk for suicidal ideation and death by suicide.
Heavy Alcohol Use of Veterans
Military veterans are more likely to engage in heavy alcohol use than their civilian counterparts. An estimated 7.5% of veterans report heavy alcohol use in a one-month period compared with 6.5% of civilians. Veterans also consume alcohol more regularly than civilians, with 56.6% reporting alcohol use during a one-month period compared to 50.8% of civilians. Veterans who frequently engage in heavy alcohol use may be at higher risk for alcohol dependence and addiction.
Number of Veterans Prescribed Opioids Rose from 17% to 24%
Between 2001 and 2009, the number of veterans in the Veterans Affairs healthcare system who received painkiller prescriptions increased from 17% to 24%. Additionally, the number of painkiller prescriptions written by military doctors more than quadrupled during the same time period. Opioids are commonly used to treat moderate to severe pain, such as that caused by injury in military combat. However, these drugs carry a high risk for abuse, dependence, and addiction as well as opioid overdose.
How Can Veterans Get Help for PTSD and Addiction?
Symptoms of PTSD and addiction can disrupt veterans’ lives and make it difficult for them to perform normal everyday activities. Veterans who suffer from co-occurring disorders can benefit from recovering at drug rehab centers that use a whole-person approach to treatment. Medical detox, behavior therapy, and trauma-focused psychotherapies are just some methods used at drug rehab to help veterans experience a lasting, fulfilling recovery from PTSD and substance abuse.
America’s Rehab Campuses accept Tricare military insurance and use medical detox and a spectrum of therapeutic interventions to treat co-occurring disorders. If you’re a veteran who needs help overcoming substance abuse, contact us today to learn more about our whole-person approach to recovery and available addiction treatments.