The disease of addiction impacts the lives of millions of people and their families every year. It is a disease that does not discriminate and knows no bounds. Although the risk factors for developing a substance use disorder vary from person to person, there are specific circumstances, life events, or career paths that elevate one’s risk for turning to substances to cope with trauma, chronic pain, or mental health symptoms. 

The experiences of our nation’s veterans are not always pleasant or lighthearted. Many will witness the trauma and emotional turmoil that results from a tour of duty in active combat or experience physical, sexual, or emotional trauma during their time in service. After successfully completing the tour of duty, others struggle with the difficulties of adjusting to civilian life post-discharge or adjusting to being at home when they’re used to the rigors and stressors of being on the front lines. Regardless of the root cause, as many as one in fifteen United States military veterans (from all Armed Services branches) abuses a controlled substance. As many as 76% of veterans who struggle with substance use disorder meet the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder.

What Is Rehab for Veterans?

The rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction are high for veterans. These veterans may also experience other mental health and physical health issues related to the trauma they experienced during active military service. Unfortunately, serving in the U.S. military can potentially lead to a higher risk for developing substance use and mental health disorders, making it increasingly difficult to manage day-to-day tasks and expectations after leaving military service. 

Rehab for veterans specifically focuses on the unique treatment needs experienced by veterans who choose to seek treatment. Our health care professionals at Cal Recovery understand the requirements for specialized treatments and unique recovery programs for those with a military background. At a rehab for veterans, you will receive evidence-based treatment designed around the needs of you as a person. Your treatment program may include family therapy, individual therapy, group therapy, relapse prevention, detox, wellness services, and life skills training. Therapies used in a veteran-specific rehab program are designed to focus on the complex addiction and mental health needs of veterans seeking sobriety. 

Are Veterans Prone to Addiction? 

Several factors lead to increased vulnerability to addiction among veterans. The first (and likely most influential) is exposure to trauma. Military service is demanding and sometimes dangerous. Men and women with a history of multiple deployments, especially to active combat areas, are at a high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues that can lead to unbearable symptoms. Some veterans who develop these conditions will turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and reduce the intensity of symptoms such as nightmares and sleeping difficulties.

Another factor that may increase addiction risk in veterans is the incidence of co-occurring mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder. It is believed as many as 30% of veterans struggle with PTSD and associated symptoms. Mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression frequently co-occur with substance use disorders among both male and female veterans. When struggling with a co-occurring disorder (both mental health and substance use), veterans may use substances to alleviate the more intrusive symptoms of their mental health. While using drugs or alcohol to dull symptoms may work in the short-term, over time, self-medication often leads to worsening mental health and addiction-related struggles leading to the need for comprehensive, dual-diagnosis care to manage and overcome symptoms. 

Reach Out to Us Today at Cal Recovery Center

At Cal Recovery Center, we understand the unique experiences of our veterans and how those experiences relate to an increased risk for addiction. These challenges are unlike the struggles faced by most American’s every day. Although all addiction treatment programs address addiction, not all are equipped to manage dual diagnosis or the unique needs of veterans facing mental health and addiction struggles. If you would like to learn more about how our veteran program can help you begin your journey to sobriety and recovery, contact us at Cal Recovery Center today. 

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