How Have Addiction Rates Among Veterans Changed Over the Years?

If you have served in the United States Armed Forces and have a problem with drugs or alcohol, you are not alone. The same also applies if you’re struggling with a co-occurring disorder that includes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For those who are unfamiliar with a co-occurring disorder, it is a term used to describe a substance use disorder coupled with a mental illness.

According to a study published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2012, the most recent and relevant data available, 1.5 million veterans reported having a substance abuse problem of some kind. And by all accounts, substance abuse in America among veterans is not too dissimilar compared to that of non-veterans.

To put this into perspective, in 2012, 1 in 15 veterans admitted to abusing drugs or alcohol. In the same year, 1 in 11 non-veterans admitted to the same. As far as PTSD is concerned, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs revealed than approximately 11 to 20 percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with a combination of PTSD and depression alongside a substance use disorder.

A Closer Look at Addiction Among America’s Veterans

Although veterans abuse a variety of substances, the overwhelming majority appear to have a problem with alcohol, especially those with PTSD and depression. One study, in particular, noted that 12 to 15 percent of veterans who served in Iraq frequently binge drink. The percentage is even higher among those who were in combat. It is also worth noting that veterans who abuse alcohol have a tendency to engage in interpersonal violence and are more likely to suffer from declining health. Additionally, they also have a higher mortality rate compared to nondrinkers.

Of course, this article would not be complete without detailing a few of the other substances that are often abused by former military servicemen and servicewomen. Along with alcohol, many of America’s veterans also have a co-occurring disorder involving PTSD and marijuana. According to the same data published by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, marijuana use among veterans with PSTD climbed from 13 percent in 2002 to nearly 23 percent in 2014. Rounding out the statistical data, between 2001 and 2009, an astonishing 17 to 24 percent of veterans admitted to using or abusing opioids or other prescription-based narcotics as a form of pain management.

How Rehab Facilities Across the Country Are Helping America’s Veterans Overcome Addiction

Something to note when it comes to rehab facilities across America is that they have, as of the writing of this article, offered substance abuse programs to more than 128,000 veterans. Of those, 52.4 percent received treatment to resolve both a drug and alcohol addiction, 28.2 percent for a standalone alcohol disorder, and 19.3 percent for a standalone drug problem. Indeed, many rehab facilities in nearly all corners of the country are helping countless veterans break the cycle of addiction and better their lives.

It is important to note that these substance abuse programs, while similar in many regards to the ones offered to civilians, are uniquely designed to meet the needs of veterans. In fact, most of these facilities have licensed therapists that help veterans identify and gradually overcome the issues that may have led to them using in the first place. Therapy can consist of one-on-one, group, or family counseling sessions, which is in addition to standard addiction recovery treatments, some of which include

Medication-assisted detox – Many of the substances that most veterans are addicted to can trigger severe withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, insomnia, and muscle cramps. To combat these symptoms, most rehab facilities offer medication-assisted detox, which includes round-the-clock monitoring and prescription-based medication, such as Suboxone and Methadone.

Addiction education – Along with counseling from a licensed therapist, many rehab facilities offer addiction education, which is aimed at providing veterans with information that helps them understand the full impact of addiction and also how to cope with triggers that could lead to a relapse.

Access to support groups – Arguably, the hardest part of overcoming addiction is staying clean after completing rehab and returning to the “real world.” To ensure veterans can achieve long-term sobriety, most facilities will recommend and even make arrangements for them to join support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Bottom Line

In summary, if you’re a veteran struggling with a mental health disorder, a substance abuse problem, or a combination of the two, there is no shortage or rehab facilities that you can turn to for help. And best of all, many will accept TRICARE, the official health care program of the U.S. Department of Defense Military Health System. To find a quality rehab facility in your area, consider speaking with one of our friendly associates today at 833-762-3739.