Finding Strength: Facing Addiction as a Veteran
Last Updated: January 16, 2024
Addiction affects many veterans. Studies show that approximately 8.4% of U.S. veterans aged 18 and older have problems with alcohol, and 3.5% have issues with marijuana. Additionally, 2.4% misuse prescription painkillers, putting them at risk of addiction to opioids.
Some veterans with addiction hesitate to seek help, but you don’t have to face it alone. Treatment options are available.
Overcoming the Challenge: Dealing with Stigma
Sadly, some veterans feel ashamed to seek help for addiction due to the negative views held within the military community. Research suggests that veterans with PTSD may turn to alcohol as a way to cope, which can make their problems worse.
Stigma shouldn’t stop you from seeking help. Asking for assistance is a sign of strength.
Acknowledging the Issue and Admitting Addiction
Some veterans believe asking for help makes them look weak, but that’s not true. Addiction is a health problem, and recognizing it is the first step toward getting better.
Around 11% of veterans seeking help from the VA have a substance use disorder. Heavy drinking and smoking are common issues, and some veterans struggle with drug addiction.
If you’re a veteran dealing with addiction, you’re not alone. Many veterans turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with military life, but there’s hope for recovery.
A New Way of Thinking: Finding Inner Strength
Seeking help may seem uncomfortable, but it’s a brave choice. Veterans have faced tough challenges like deployment and combat, which require inner strength. This strength can help you recover from addiction too.
Your Strength Is An Inner Power
Recovering from addiction takes strength, and your experiences in the military have likely given you the resilience you need to be successful. Coping with deployment, combat exposure and civilian life requires an inner strength that can also guide you through recovery.
The Courage to Seek Help
It’s time to let go of the idea that asking for help means you’re weak. It’s a sign of courage to admit when you’re struggling.
Facing Your Addiction
Veterans have the strength needed to recover from addiction. Once you recognize this strength within yourself, it’s time to start your journey toward treatment.
Treatment varies based on your needs, but it typically includes individual and group therapy. Some veterans begin with inpatient treatment to get away from triggers at home and then move to outpatient care, which allows them to live at home while continuing to participate in treatment.
Breaking the Stigma: Overcoming Challenges
When you decide to seek help for addiction, you might worry about what others think. To combat this:
- Educate your loved ones about addiction and its treatment.
- Think of addiction treatment as regular healthcare.
- Share minimal details if you’re concerned about how others will react.
- Disregard negative opinions and focus on your recovery.
- Know that in a recent study, most veterans stated they wouldn’t judge a fellow veteran for seeking help.
Building a Support System
Support is crucial as you work toward recovery. The VA offers various services to support veterans with addiction symptoms, including counseling and self-help groups. Connecting with peers during support group meetings can also be helpful.
Surround yourself with friends and family who support your choice to seek treatment and distance yourself from those who hold stigmatized views of addiction.
Professional Help: The Path to Healing
Recovering from addiction alone is tough, but professional treatment can make a big difference. In a veterans addiction treatment program, you’ll have access to services like therapy, group counseling and medication to help you overcome your addiction.
At The Recovery Village, our staff are trained in trauma-informed approaches, including EMDR to help veterans with their unique needs. We also provide treatment for mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and PTSD, which often co-occur with addiction.