Military veterans continue to suffer from increased levels of post traumatic shock, combat exposure, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) at high levels. Substance abuse is also a concern among military veterans who may turn to prescription, illegal or other drug use to deal with combat wounds and mental illness. Learn more about addiction treatment options for military veterans and how to support men and women post combat.
Substance Abuse Concerns
Alcohol abuse is the most prevalent problem which poses a significant health risk. Soldiers frequently report issues with alcohol though few are referred to alcohol treatment. Research findings highlight the need to improve screening and access to care for alcohol-related problems. Mental illness also happens among military personnel with an above average number seeking support for conditions. Suicide rates are also higher among Army veterans who report mental health problems.
Research and the Military
The Millennium Cohort Study followed a representative sample of U.S. military personnel from 2001-2022. Findings suggest the Reserve and National Guard personnel and younger service members who deploy with reported combat exposures are at increased risk of new-onset heavy drinking habits including binge drinking and other alcohol related problems. Government agencies, public health entities and others are working together to adapt and test proven prevention and treatment interventions for potential use with military and veteran groups and family members.
Social problems caused by and contributing to drug use disrupt progress in healing for veterans. Researchers used smart phones in one study along with wearable wireless sensors to determine stress among veterans struggling with addiction and trauma. The data was analyzed to find ways of better support veterans who need help with addiction, trauma and co-occurring substance use disorders.
Drug Treatment Research
Access to drug treatment programs is another area of intense research for veterans. Research is showing the improvement in veteran’s access to drug treatment has positive effects for veterans and families. Drug courts have demonstrated positive effectiveness in addressing nonviolent crimes committed by drug abusers who need treatment over prison sentences. The criminal justice system is often a frequent treatment referral source for veterans with specialized drug courts for the population who need access to services. Drug courts can offer a lifeline for nonviolent offenders, with 65 courts now appearing in 20 states.
Advancement in research protocols for veterans with substance use disorder has increased with more federal funding being poured into collaborations with the Department of Veterans Affairs and other institutes. The purpose is to enhance and accelerate research on the identification, prevention and treatment of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use and abuse including illicit and prescription drugs. The hope is with more research, more options can be provided to support the transition home following combat for veterans and alleviate the wait for life-saving treatment.
The Villa works with people from all walks of life who struggle with addiction. If you are a veteran or family member of a veteran, call us to find out how we can help you find hope again in the aftermath of addiction.