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Why Many Veterans Struggle with Substance Abuse

a woman sits with two other people in a veterans and substance abuse program discussing issues about addiction

Many veterans struggle with substance use disorders. Addiction develops for some during their time in the military, while others don’t develop a substance use disorder until after they’ve finished serving. A veterans rehab program in Southaven, MS, addresses the unique factors contributing to veteran substance misuse.

Vertava Health Mississippi’s veterans’ support program helps veterans overcome substance use disorders. Give us a call today at 844.470.0410 to learn more about the connection between veterans and substance abuse. Our veterans’ support program is available to all who have served and are serving our country.

Why Veterans Struggle with Drugs and Alcohol

There is no simple answer to the question of why veterans struggle with drugs and alcohol. Data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates that around one in ten veterans struggle with substance abuse. A key reason for the correlation between veterans and substance abuse lies in how military lifestyles and experiences differ from civilian life.

Difficulty Adjusting to Civilian Life

Even spending just a few years in the military can have lifelong implications for veterans’ overall well-being when they transition back to civilian life. Veterans who have spent most of their adult years in military service may face even more significant obstacles when service ends.

Some of the most common difficulties veterans face when they leave the service include the following:

  • Financial hardship
  • Difficulty finding employment
  • Lack of work history relevant to employment opportunities
  • Difficulty accessing benefits
  • Lack of civilian friendships
  • Emotional distance from family members

After years in the military, it can be difficult—or even impossible—to transition back into a civilian lifestyle.

Mental and Emotional Health Concerns

Veterans are at high risk of experiencing mental and emotional health concerns. For many veterans, experiences in the military continue to take a toll on mental health even years later.

Returning veterans often struggle with family relationships damaged by long absences. Friends and family may not understand the experiences they’ve had.

When concerns like these are compounded by finances or physical health issues, mental and emotional health often take a hit. Substance use can become a way of coping with difficult or unwanted thoughts and feelings.

Untreated Trauma

It’s no secret that military experiences can be traumatizing. From service in war zones to sexual assault in the military, many veterans return home with unprocessed trauma. Untreated trauma can easily develop into PTSD.

Common signs that a veteran would benefit from trauma treatment include:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling numb
  • Extreme emotional reactions
  • Startling easily
  • Lack of interest in relationships or activities

Untreated trauma directly impacts all areas of life. Many individuals cope with trauma by using substances, which often leads to developing a substance use disorder.

The Need for Substance Abuse Treatment Designed for Veterans

Difficulty transitioning into civilian life can have a severe negative impact on a veteran’s wellness. When a veteran struggles with substance use, they need the support of a high-quality addiction treatment program.

However, not all treatment programs will have the same level of effectiveness. Most treatment programs are designed to address common factors that contribute to addiction for civilians.

The sacrifices required by military life often leave veterans facing significant challenges. An effective addiction treatment program must understand and address the factors unique to a veteran’s life experiences.

Support for Veterans at Vertava Health – Mississippi

Vertava Health Mississippi understands the challenges faced by veterans and their loved ones. Our support program for veterans exists to help reduce the connection between veterans and substance abuse. To learn more about getting help for yourself or a loved one, contact us at 844.470.0410 and ask about veterans’ addiction treatment at Vertava Health Mississippi.