If you’re reading this, there’s a strong chance that you know someone who has ever been affected by mental health issues. The issue is affecting more people than ever before, and it’s no surprise.
While intensive outpatient programs exist, it’s still vital to understand why all of this happens. With the pace of technological advancement and rapid social change, modern society is increasingly isolating us from one another, which makes for an ideal breeding ground for psychological distress. This is especially apparent when it comes to veterans.
Thankfully, however, more people are starting to recognize the severity of this problem, and more effective treatment methods are being implemented accordingly.
To help make sure you or your loved one get the rehabilitation they need to get well again, this article will focus on providing comprehensive information about the exact nature of mental health and addiction for veterans, as well as what you can expect during treatment.
What is substance abuse?
Mental health often gets overlooked in the context of substance abuse. Substance abuse is defined as excessive substance use to the point where it negatively affects one’s life. Drugs, alcohol, and nicotine are all used to facilitate this activity.
Conditions Associated with Substance Abuse
Mental health problems are often associated with substance abuse and vice versa. Some of the most common mental illnesses associated with substance abuse include Schizophrenia, Anxiety disorders, Bipolar disorder, Depression, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
However, while so many other mental health conditions would also be associated with substance abuse, these are some of the most common ones.
Signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Veterans
One of the most common mental health issues that veterans face is PTSD, the mental condition that is caused by stressful experiences. While it’s known that veterans can get PTSD from war, it’s not always as black and white as this.
During times of trauma, certain reactions are natural and adaptive, such as anger and withdrawal from friends, family, and society.
Among military veterans, a traumatic experience can lead to a number of compulsions, including drug use. Drugs can alter the body’s chemistry and can help relieve some of the pain. However, these drugs can be dangerous and lead to addiction. If these reactions persist, then it may be time to seek treatment before it gets worse. So, here are some common signs of PTSD for veterans.
Anger is a common symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While anger is not always associated with violence, it is commonly related to PTSD. Some of the most important lessons in PTSD include learning to deal with anger.
A common symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for veterans is withdrawal from family, friends, and society. This can be very painful. It can also interfere with a veteran’s ability to work and maintain relationships. This can also impact their self-worth, giving them more reasons to be withdrawn.
While it’s natural to have nightmares from time to time, those with PTSD may have nightmares of their traumatic past. Commonly, with PTSD, it will be more frequent nightmares, such as nightly or several each week. These nightmares are associated with increased anxiety, depression, and suicide risk.
One of the most significant symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is avoidance. This psychological response to a traumatic event can be triggered by objects or people that remind the sufferer of the traumatic event. Avoiding can include things like avoiding talking about the event or avoiding places and situations where the event occurred.
It can also include seeking out prescription drugs and alcohol to deal with the pain. However, drug and alcohol abuse can be harmful, and PTSD can be worsened by attempting to self-medicate. The most important thing to remember about avoidance is that it can be unhealthy for veterans with PTSD.
Which Substances Do Veterans Commonly Misuse?
Unfortunately, substance abuse is common for those who suffer from mental health issues, and it’s especially prevalent among those who are veterans. So, here are some of the common substances that veterans may use.
Alcohol is a substance that veterans misuse at an alarming rate. It’s a substance that can have a huge impact on the military and can even hurt the veteran’s own health and well-being. Alcohol is the substance of choice for many veterans, particularly those who served in active combat.
Studies have shown that military members are at a higher risk of alcohol abuse than civilians. This can often be used as a coping mechanism for traumatic events, but too much drinking can lead to addiction.
Prescription drugs are one of the most misused substances in the United States. In fact, some studies have shown that a third of the population in this country suffers from a substance use disorder. The problem is even more prevalent among veterans. Veterans can develop addictions to prescription painkillers. During combat, these medications are often prescribed to help with the pain.
However, using too much or taking them for too long can lead to withdrawal symptoms. Veterans are more likely to use illegal drugs, prescription pain medication, and marijuana to cope with stress and other afflictions. The effects can be disastrous, whether they are self-medicating or turning to illicit substances.
Psychoactive substances are a category of drugs that affect the brain and body. They can have various effects, including hallucinations, elevated blood pressure, and euphoria. Their misuse is associated with serious psychological distress. A lot of veterans will form a dependency as they’re trying to feel an escape from reality or at least trying to numb the pain that PTSD provides temporarily.
How to Help a Veteran With Substance Abuse Issues
When you’re dealing with a veteran with substance abuse issues, you might wonder how to help them. Fortunately, there are so many options out there to help them out with these substance abuse issues as well as other mental health issues. Here are a few ways to show your support.
Group therapy may be a useful adjunct to treatment if you have a loved one who has a substance use disorder. This form of therapy helps individuals deal with the emotional conflicts that accompany substance abuse and can improve their prognosis.
Groups provide a supportive environment where members can learn healthy coping skills and build self-worth. They also teach how to interact with families and friends healthily.
Group therapy can be conducted in a variety of different formats. Some examples include support groups, 12-Step groups, and discussion groups. Each type has its own strengths and weaknesses.
VA programs for veterans with substance abuse issues include motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). These therapies are proven to help veterans learn to identify and avoid substance use behaviors that may hinder their recovery.
While the services from VA programs may vary based on location, you just need to look into your local VA office to see what can be offered.
Transitional living programs
Transitional living programs are meant to help (mostly) homeless veterans who are struggling with substance abuse. If you or your loved one is a homeless veteran struggling with mental health or addiction issues, they must find a place to reintegrate and get back on their feet in a healthy manner.
These programs can provide housing, employment, counseling, and mental health services to make the process easier.
Addiction treatment centers
Addiction treatment, such as drug rehab and alcohol rehab, can be a great option. The Louisville Addiction Treatment Center offers intensive outpatient, telemed, and multiple pathways treatment.
Plus, their Impact Outpatient program is a one-of-a-kind outpatient drug and alcohol treatment that entirely centers on creating a sustainable path to recovery, something long-lasting so relapse never happens.
Take Back Control
Overall, it can be very challenging seeing yourself or a loved one suffer from mental health and having to turn to an unhealthy substance in order to make an escape. Just know that there is help out there, and you don’t have to go about this alone.
The Louisville Addiction Treatment Center is here, and we provide the utmost care to every patient. Whether you’re looking for drug treatment or alcohol treatment, just know that we’ll help, and you can count on long-term recovery in the most sustainable way possible.
Hopefully, this article has helped you get an understanding of how declining mental health issues in veterans occur and why substance addiction has become so common. There is help out there, so no matter how dark the days feel, recovery can be within arms reach.