Many veterans experience difficult and traumatic experiences during their time in service. However, when veterans return, they do not always receive help to support the emotional and physical effects of these experiences. This situation can lead some veterans to seek out other ways to manage their mental health challenges. Many veterans turn to drugs and alcohol to alleviate physical or mental distress.
Substance use disorders come with their own problems, which can compound the mental health challenges that veterans are already experiencing. What can veterans do to improve their mental and physical health?
The Connection Between Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness
According to the Harvard Help Guide, “roughly 50 percent of individuals with severe mental disorders” experience substance use disorders, while 37 percent of those impacted by an alcohol use disorder and 53 percent of those with drug use disorders have a serious mental illness. These mental illnesses include depression and anxiety, and they also include other illnesses such as schizophrenia. There is a close connection between mental health and substance use disorders. As people try to feel better or regulate their emotions with drugs and alcohol, it is easy to fall into the misuse of those substances.
Why Do Veterans Experience Substance Use Disorders?
The experience of combat is intense and can be traumatic. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 8 out of 100 veterans experience PTSD. After their service, veterans may not always have adequate mental health support.
Veterans are particularly likely to experience mental health challenges, and therefore veterans are more likely to experience other problems that can come with mental health concerns, such as substance use disorder. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “many service members face such critical issues as trauma, suicide, homelessness, and/or involvement with the criminal justice system.” Veterans experience depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder that can lead to the development of a substance use disorder.
Addiction Treatment Resources for Veterans
If you are or someone you know is a veteran struggling with a substance use disorder, what can you do to help? Thankfully, there are addiction treatment resources for veterans that you can use in your journey to becoming substance-free. These include:
- The Veterans’ Crisis Line. This is a resource for veterans and their friends and family members. If you are concerned about your well-being or the well-being of others in your family, you can connect with this line to get support for concerns about mental and physical health, including a substance use disorder.
- The Military Helpline. This helpline is there to support the mental health of people who have served. There is a specific helpline for women as well.
- Some treatment programs address both addiction and mental illness. These include programs that provide intensive therapies as an inpatient or outpatient, work with dual diagnoses in a conscious and supportive way, and provide ongoing outpatient therapies and aftercare so that veterans can receive the ongoing support they need.
At The Recovery Village Columbus, medical professionals focus on helping you move into recovery and maintain sobriety. If you want to work on recovery from addiction and mental illness, we are here to support you. Contact The Recovery Village Columbus and talk with us today about your options for recovery.