As we wrap up Mental Health Awareness Month and celebrate Memorial Day, we thought it appropriate to devote our final May blog post to a subject that is as prevalent as it is sad – veterans and substance abuse. Studies show Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is tied strongly to substance use problems, particularly when the PTSD is tied to military service. Regardless of the root cause of PTSD, affected persons often try to mask their symptoms by self-medicating. Ironically, people with problems relative to drugs and/or alcohol are more likely than the general population to develop PTSD.
What is PTSD
PTSD is a mental health problem that some people develop after they experience or witness a life-threatening event, such as combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that about 7 percent of U.S. veterans have a substance use disorder. Mental health issues and substance abuse, in fact, lead to more hospitalizations among U.S. troops than any other condition.
Why Vets Drink and Use Drugs
The ease of alcohol and drug availability, combined with the stresses associated with the challenges of war, contribute greatly to the use of alcohol by service members while they are serving. What’s more, when they return home, many continue to use out of habit as well as to numb the pain of their PTSD. Retired military personnel may combat
psychological stress from past experiences and find that the demands of home life can trigger substance use disorders. This is especially true when current or retired members of the armed services suffer injuries as a result of their active service. Those who depend on prescription medication often continue to do so, even after their return to civilian life.
According to the National Center for PTSD, co-occurring PTSD and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) occurs in veterans in large numbers:
- More than 2 out of 10 veterans with PTSD also have SUD.
- Almost 1 out of every 3 veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD.
- In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 1 in 10 returning veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, who sought treatment at the Veteran’s Administration (VA), report having a problem with alcohol or other drugs.
- War Veterans with PTSD and alcohol problems tend to binge drink. Binge drinking is defined as when someone drinks 4-5 drinks or more alcoholic drinks in a short time period (1-2 hours).
- People with PTSD are two to four times more likely to battle an addiction than people who do not have PTSD.
Hope for the Hurting
Thankfully, despite the statistics and obstacles, recovery is possible. If you or someone you know suffers from substance abuse disorder, whether or not it developed as a result of military service, call today to get help. MFI Recovery Center helps people rebuild meaningful aspects of life. Our programs are designed to assist individuals and families at all levels of care, to identify underlying issues and causes of behavior and to establish new ad effective coping strategies. Our gender-and age-specific programs utilize evidence-based practices, individually-tailored to each person’s unique experience and needs.
About MFI Recovery Center
Throughout 10 facilities in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, we employ the Matrix Model, creating a personalized treatment program for each client. Various modalities can include behavior modification, 12-Step program introduction, cognitive behavioral therapy, and family systems techniques, including the family in group therapy. Treatment options include outpatient and inpatient detox, medication management (if appropriate), group therapy, individual therapy, relapse prevention education, and ongoing support after treatment. To find out more, call today (866) 218-4697, or for non-admission related information, contact us at (951) 683-6596.