PTSD and Addiction: Our Veterans Matter

by | Nov 6, 2019 | Addiction | 0 comments

ptsd and addiction

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Many veterans are struggling with substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder in the United States. Traumatic events such as combat exposure and multiple deployments can trigger drug or alcohol use. It can also damage one’s mental health after returning home. 
As a result, PTSD and addiction can occur. PTSD and addiction should not be taken lightly. It is crucial to treat symptoms as they arise, rather than pushing treatment off. If left untreated, symptoms tend to worsen over time. Here at Amethyst, we offer treatment for all veterans seeking recovery from PTSD and substance abuse.

PTSD in the Armed Forces

Veterans can have substance use disorders both before and after their deployments. However, research has proven that PTSD and addiction are connected. A military member may not have a substance use disorder before deployment. A veteran’s chance of developing a substance use disorder significantly increases after returning home.
PTSD tends to worsen over time if left untreated. Negative changes pile up until they become severely overwhelming. You can begin to seek treatment today and watch your life change for the better.

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Experiencing the event over and over through flashbacks, nightmares or triggers
  • Staying away from situations that remind you of the event
  • Negative changes in beliefs or feelings related to the event
  • Hyperarousal which can be shown by insomnia, trouble focusing, anxiety, being easily startled, etc.

In some cases, PTSD appears immediately after the event. However, it’s also possible that weeks, months or even years go by without symptoms of PTSD surfacing. Symptoms typically begin affecting daily life for veterans, including work, family and school. That’s when it’s important to start seeking treatment.

Addiction in the Armed Forces

Veteran substance abuse is a growing problem in the USA. After returning home from deployment, addiction can arise. PTSD and addiction often occur simultaneously. There are many different reasons as to why addiction in veterans is common.
These service members have gone through hardships and traumatic experiences during deployment. Substance abuse may be an attempt to alleviate symptoms of PTSD. 

PTSD and Addiction in Veterans: How do they connect?

Many servicemen and women join the armed forces already experiencing a substance use disorder. Military personnel and combat veterans are at a greater risk of developing PTSD, as well as going through addiction. 
The link between PTSD and addiction is commonly referred to as the “self-medication hypothesis.” To numb the symptoms of PTSD, addiction is developed through substance abuse. 
Our veterans are expected to adjust quickly without much supervision or guidance. 
This can worsen symptoms of PTSD and addiction. We must offer our help and encourage military personnel to seek treatment. There are a wealth of resources out there specifically for veterans.

Which Substances Do Veterans Commonly Abuse?

Different drugs serve different purposes and have varying effects on the body. For example, Vicodin (a painkiller) may be prescribed for physical discomfort from an injury. On the other hand, Lunesta (a sedative) might be prescribed to help a veteran with sleeping problems. These drugs both hold the danger of being misused. 
Misuse then leads to addiction. Many veterans exceed their recommended dosage for these kinds of drugs. Here at Amethyst, we offer an inpatient rehab program with 24/7 medical care. A veteran needs to have medical supervision if a drug like Vicodin is prescribed.

Alcohol Misuse Among Veterans

Alcohol is a drug that can be categorized as a depressant and a stimulant. You may feel euphoria at first that is then followed by feelings of depression. It can also lead to drowsiness, respiratory depression or binge drinking. Binge drinking is when large amounts of alcohol are consumed in a short amount of time. 
Alcohol is used by many veterans to cope with PTSD and other behavioral disorders. The purpose lies in attempting to drown out the scarring recollections of war. PTSD and addiction — specifically alcohol abuse — often go hand in hand for veterans. 

Opioid Misuse Among Veterans

Opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Opioids can be prescription medications often referred to as painkillers. In other cases, they can be so-called street drugs, such as heroin. 
Many prescription opioids are used to block pain signals between the brain and the body. They’re usually used to treat moderate to severe pain. There are hundreds of thousands of disabled veterans in the country, as stated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 
Opioids are often prescribed to treat the pain caused by injuries. Opioids can be highly addictive and even fatal in certain cases. A detox is a common part of a treatment plan for opioid abuse.

Treatment for Veterans

There are many treatment options for veterans struggling with PTSD and addiction. Treating a veteran is not the same as somebody who has not served in the military. Treatment ranges from detoxing to inpatient rehabilitation.
A good treatment program should include a variety of different resources. There is no “one size fits all” approach. To successfully recover, the treatment plan must be tailored. We’ll carefully assess your condition so we can best treat PTSD and addiction.
Treatment programs should include:

  • Helping the patient cope with mental discomfort caused by defending their country
  • A personalized program based on a veteran’s PTSD and current addiction problem
  • Teaching coping strategies that can help deal with any traumatic experiences from life in the military

We also work with Tri-Care Insurance for Veterans. Find out more about your coverage options.

Get Help Today

If you or a loved one is a veteran in need of help, we’re here for you. There are many resources out there for a veteran struggling with PTSD and addiction. No matter how dark things may seem, there are brighter days ahead.  
We offer a variety of treatment programs. We can help you detox, provide top-quality therapy, support groups, and much more. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to our dedicated staff. You can call us at (855) 500-3609 or contact us here to begin seeking treatment today.

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