Veterans face many challenges, including the trauma of being in combat. Studies have found that exposure to fighting and bloodshed puts people at a higher risk of substance abuse and addiction; that, in turn, can lead to more violence.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has programs to help veterans with alcohol and drug problems, understanding that some find it hard to slow or stop use on their own.
As a result, the VA offers a number of services grounded in science that are designed to do just that, whether it’s an out-of-control addiction or behavior fueled by a co-occurring condition such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or anxiety.
People can take advantage of drug or alcohol screenings, outpatient counseling and treatment options, live-in care, medically assisted treatment, relapse prevention, self-help groups, counseling for couples or families, and medications to curb cravings.
Several treatment options are available to veterans seeking to break free of substance abuse, including one-on-one and group therapies and/or medications to help overcome addiction. Therapies may involve:
1.Establishing and building on the person’s motivation to change behaviors.
2. Improving coping skills and identifying potential triggers.
3. Counseling couples through recovery and mending relationships.
4. Linking veterans with 12-step programs and comparable fellowship groups.
5. Educating the individual on the connections between substance use and other underlying disorders.
Medications may also be prescribed in addition to or apart from counseling options. These may include antidepressants for depression. Methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone may be used to help someone manage opioid addiction.
Residential options are also available for veterans who do not live near any VA clinics or for people who are struggling with issues such as homelessness or other unique or unusual circumstances.
To learn more, visit www.va.gov.
sciencedirect.com - Substance Abuse and Violence: A Review of the Literature
mentalhealth.va.gov - Treatment Programs for Substance Use Problems