Life in the military and life as a civilian are very different—and the transition from the former to the latter can be extremely difficult. Those who have not served cannot truly understand what members of the military experience—particularly if their service has included combat or other traumatic situations. For many veterans, the combination of traumatic experiences and a jarring return to civilian life can be extremely difficult.
Well, research reveals that more than 10 percent of those who have served in the military have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder.
The Challenges That Can Lead Vets to Start Using Drugs and Alcohol
Military service is frequently characterized by structure, defined procedures, and clear responsibilities. It also can provide a person with a clear sense of purpose and a close-knit team of people they can always count on. Back in civilian life, a veteran may feel as though they have lost all of those things—including their sense of purpose. As a result they may turn to drugs or alcohol to try to fill the void they are feeling.
In addition to these issues, many veterans struggle with mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Because many veterans are reluctant to seek out help (we will have more to say about this in a moment), these disorders can be very difficult to manage. Again, they may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to “self-medicate” in the hope of dealing with their difficulties on their own.
Chronic pain can be another problem. If a vet was injured while serving, they may experience significant ongoing pain that they cannot manage. They may turn to illicit drugs as a solution, or they may seek help from a physician. A doctor may prescribe strong painkillers in a good-faith effort to help a veteran find relief from the pain. Unfortunately, however, this can put a vet at risk of developing a substance use disorder centered on prescription painkillers.
The Challenges That Can Lead Vets to Be Slow to Get Help
Military service teaches people to be self-reliant and tough. These can, of course, be useful traits in civilian life, but they can also make it harder for a vet to admit to themselves that they need help for a substance use disorder. In fact, they may feel a sense of embarrassment about their problem—or they may feel that no one can really help them since no one can truly understand what they have been through.
This is a powerful combination of emotions—pride in self-reliance, embarrassment about struggling, fear that no one will understand—and together they can lead a veteran to reliance on drugs or alcohol.
But it does not have to be that way.
Tactical Recovery Was Created to Overcome Challenges Vets Face
Peak View Behavioral Health is proud to offer veterans services created specifically to meet their needs via a program known as Tactical Recovery.
Created in collaboration with PsychArmor, a national nonprofit serving veterans, Tactical Recovery is built on a trauma-informed model and culturally competent approach to treatment. That is a fancy way to say something pretty straightforward: Tactical Recovery provided substance use disorder recovery services tailored to the specific needs of those who have served their country.
Equally importantly, the Tactical Recovery program includes treatment for any co-occurring mental health disorders that may be contributing to (or may be worsened by) a veteran’s substance use disorder. Maintaining one’s mental health and one’s sobriety are, for all intents and purposes, two sides of the same coin, and so Tactical Recovery supports both.
We Are Grateful for Your Service & Eager to Serve You
If you have served in the military, your commitment to your country is truly admirable—and you should be able to count on services designed to support you when times are difficult after you have returned to civilian life.
At Peak View Behavioral Health, we are honored to serve veterans with a program designed specifically for their needs. If you need help, we will listen with the respect you deserve and then tailor a treatment plan that is specific to you and your situation. We can help you reclaim both your sobriety and your life. Those who have served our country deserve nothing less.