Unfortunately, veterans and addiction are often deeply tied. There are a number of compelling reasons why the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country become particularly vulnerable to substance abuse. If you served in the military and are now struggling with addiction to alcohol, illicit substances, or prescription medications, you can’t make positive changes until you understand the reasons behind the problem.
Veterans and Addiction by the Numbers
The numbers tell a grim story about the relationship between veterans and addiction. The following statistics provide only a small snapshot:
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) reports that between 2004–2006, about 7% of veterans developed substance use disorders.
- Approximately two out of ten veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) go on to develop a substance use disorder.
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that about one in six Iraq and Afghanistan campaign veterans experience PTSD symptoms.
- According to the NIDA, in the years 2004-2006 25% of young veterans between the ages of 18 and 25 showed the symptoms of substance use disorder or other mental health disorders in the past year.
- Over 7% of active military personnel reported abusing prescription medications in 2008 according to the Department of Defense (DoD) this is over 2.5 times higher than in the civilian population.
The numbers do not lie. In reality, they tell of a growing crisis among the ranks of our nation’s heroes.
The Causes of Substance Abuse Among Military Personnel
Veterans and addiction coexist for several reasons. One of the most prominent is PTSD, a mood disorder that people experience after witnessing intense trauma, such as combat. Its symptoms include:
- Sudden rages or lashing out
- Intrusive memories that can be triggered by current events
In order to medicate themselves against these disturbing symptoms, many people become dependent on alcohol and other drugs. In addition, the anxiety and depression that often accompany PTSD cause sufferers to isolate themselves from the very people who could help them to rise above this debilitating mood disorder.
Additionally, many use substances to deal with the chronic pain that many veterans experience after injuries during combat.
Attitudes and beliefs also play a huge role. The military culture encourages its members to be strong, self-sufficient protectors who never admit defeat or need help. Therefore, many active duty personnel and veterans are afraid that their peers will ostracize them if they seek counseling or other forms of addiction treatment.
Symptoms of Addiction In Veterans
It’s important to take the symptoms of addiction seriously. Act now if you recognize any of the following in yourself or someone you care about:
- Lack of concern for appearance or personal hygiene
- Abnormal behavior and/or mood swings
- Excessive sleepiness or lethargy
- Sores near the mouth
- Unexplained weight loss
- Withdrawing from others
- Giving up favorite activities
Because these symptoms can also result from other medical or mental health issues, it’s always important to consult with professionals before choosing addiction treatment programs.
If you or someone you love is a male veteran who struggles under the burden of addiction, Serenity Lodge is here to help. We are a men-only addiction treatment facility located in California’s beautiful San Bernardino Mountains. Our spiritually-oriented, compassionate addiction staff members understand the unique challenges that veterans during their recovery journey.
At Serenity Lodge, we recognize that every person has their own unique causes and triggers when it comes to alcohol or substance abuse. For that reason, we work closely with you or your loved one to map out a thorough plan to beat addiction. We do this with evidence-based drug and alcohol addiction treatment strategies that we customize to fit individual needs. Because we know that healing also involves those you love, we also provide counseling and support for family members.
The process of recovery is hard work, but that doesn’t mean our guests can’t have fun at the same time. Recreation and social interaction are vital for lasting sobriety. For that reason, we offer our guests the following amenities that are the envy of the industry:
- 1,500-square-foot gym
- Professional recording studio
- Massage therapy
- Nutritional counseling
- Movie theater
- Swimming pool and 12-person sauna
- Golf and racquetball
As a veteran, you don’t need to fight this battle alone. Take the first steps toward lifelong recovery at our private, beautiful facility. Heal physically, mentally, and spiritually in gorgeous surroundings, supported by expert staff who have your unique needs as their number one priority. If you or someone you love is a veteran addicted to alcohol, opioids, or other drugs, call Serenity Lodge today at 866-379-4365.