According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the world’s largest research institution, 1 in 10 veterans are struggling with a substance use disorder. And for many of these veterans, drug or alcohol addiction is further compounded by a co-occurring disorder, particularly PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). In a separate study published by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 12 percent of Gulf War veterans have PTSD. Also, 11 to 20 percent of veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom are struggling with the disorder as well. Substance abuse among veterans is so prevalent that many rehab facilities, including the more than 629 facilities in Florida, are now accepting TRICARE as a form of payment, which is the Department of Defense health care program for active-duty military members and veterans.
WHY DO SO MANY VETERANS STRUGGLE WITH SUBSTANCE ABUSE?
Just like the general population, many veterans will turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with the challenges in their life. Studies show that many of these same individuals find it difficult to acclimatize to civilian life when they return home following military deployment. And there is a myriad of reasons why that is the case. While in combat, many veterans were exposed to violence that resulted in them being physically, emotionally, and psychologically scarred. To further put this into perspective, data compiled by the National Institute of Health, one of the world’s foremost medical research centers, revealed that nearly 20 percent of U.S. veterans reported experiencing a traumatic brain injury during their deployment. These injuries, specifically, can contribute to mood and behavioral changes that ultimately result in the following:
- Substance use disorders
CO-OCCURING DISORDERS AMONG VETERANS
Rarely do veterans ever experience a stand-alone mental health disorder or substance abuse problem after returning home from deployment. More often than not, they are struggling with both of these problems simultaneously. Studies show that co-occurring disorders among veterans can involve any of the following:
PTSD AND MARIJUANA
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, between 2002 and 2014, which is the most recent and relevant data available, marijuana use among veterans struggling with PTSD climbed from 13 percent to a staggering 22.7 percent.
DEPRESSION AND ALCOHOL
Although alcohol and depression are common in general, the combination is especially problematic amongst veterans. To further illustrate this point, a study published by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) revealed that between 1998 and 2004, binge drinking among veterans climbed from 35 percent to just over 47 percent.
ANXIETY AND OPIOIDS
Prescription opioid abuse and anxiety is yet another common co-occurring disorder that is affecting the lives of countless veterans. While many veterans resort to taking prescription opioids to manage chronic pain, often a byproduct of injuries sustained during their deployment, over 35 percent of these individuals had admitted to not only abusing these drugs but also combining them with alcohol to derive an even more intense euphoric high.
HOW DO FLORIDA REHAB FACILITIES ADDRESS THE UNIQUE NEEDS OF VETERANS STRUGGLING WITH SUBSTANCE ABUSE?
Along with traditional addiction recovery services, many Florida rehab facilities will place a strong emphasis on addressing the psychological aspects of addiction amongst veterans, which entails the use of various forms of psychotherapy. This is especially important since the overwhelming majority of veterans with a substance abuse problem are also struggling with a mental health disorder of some kind. That said, most rehab facilities in Florida that cater to veterans trying to overcome addiction will offer CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), which, coincidentally, is the number one form of psychotherapy recommended by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, particularly for those with PTSD.
HOW DOES CBT BENEFIT VETERANS STRUGGLING WITH SUBSTANCE ABUSE?
Whether a veteran is struggling with a substance abuse problem coupled with PTSD, anxiety, or depression, CBT is designed to help them identify and change trauma-related thoughts. CBT sessions in most Florida rehab facilities, not to mention those in other states, will include the following:
Exposure therapy – This aspect of CBT is a form of intervention whereby a therapist will work to control an individual’s feelings of anxiety or PTSD symptoms by exposing them to painful memories associated with past traumatic experiences. In doing so, these individuals will ultimately become desensitized to them and will be less likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate.
Cognitive restructuring – This aspect of CBT is designed to help veterans make sense of the traumatic experiences they encountered during their deployment. Studies show that many veterans have disjointed memories related to trauma and often blame themselves for things that were either not their fault or beyond their control. Cognitive restructuring helps them to see things more clearly and accurately, making it less likely that they will turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate.
If you’re a veteran who lives in Florida and has a problem with substance abuse, there are hundreds of rehab facilities that can help you break the cycle of addiction and better your life. To find a facility in your area, consider speaking with one of our associates today at 844-639-8371.