A man retires from his service in the Army. A woman completes her contract with the Navy. A few friends from a small town high school join the Marines together and sign various contracts, assigned to various duty stations with different careers.
After a few years pass by, the Army Retiree feels lost and relies on alcohol to sleep at night. The woman who is no longer in the Navy struggles to find a new mission or purpose in her life and starts drinking as soon as she wakes in the morning.
The Marines from the small town have now been around the world, and a few are now done with their contract and are out-processing. When they start to arrive back home, they are faced with how different their lives have become. They are trying to find their way back to the place where they had started, and they just can’t seem to fit in anymore. They begin to misuse the prescriptions their doctors have prescribed, and this quickly progresses into dependency.
How did these once-successful leaders become reliant on substances? Once so driven and task-oriented, physically solid, now struggle to get up in the morning? Why are they now having a hard time with just day-to-day routines? How did they get here?
The Struggles Veterans Face
The transition from military to civilian life can be one of the most challenging times in a life of a veteran. More difficult than going to war, trying to find their place after their time in the military is what leads them down a rabbit hole of substance abuse. They are trying to fix a problem they struggle to identify. They struggle to find their new sense of purpose.
For some veterans, after being diagnosed with mental health disorders after their military experience, new medications are now a part of their daily routine. Other veterans have physical injuries or ailments that now require medication. However, those that have negative experiences with medications, or choose to avoid all medications together, will now use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate.
Veterans are often attempting to relieve pain, whether mental or physical, feel more relaxed, or attempt to numb something they wish not to experience repeatedly. According to the National Insititute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “More than one in ten veterans have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder.”
Symptoms Loved Ones May Notice
Loved ones often notice issues before the person living with substance misuse or substance use disorder (SUD). Sometimes those around the one struggling are unaware that anything is not as it should be. Veterans can be good at hiding not only their feelings but hiding how they deal with them as well.
Here are some signs that your veteran loved one may be struggling with SUD:
- Disruption of sleep pattern or difficulty sleeping in general
- Changes in appetite
- Watery, puffy, or red eyes
- Changes in behavior
It is important to be aware of how your veteran loved one is doing, encourage them to be open, and try to be supportive versus judgemental. The transition period for veterans can be long and difficult for families to understand. Talking with your loved one about what they feel may be helpful for them and can be a great place to start. Ensuring them that they have your support throughout will promote the likelihood they will come to you when seeking assistance.
Resources for Veterans and Families
Luckily, there are many resources for SUDs among our veteran population. CREATE stands for Collaborative Research and Advance Transformation and Excellent. These are programs funded by the VA in hopes of transforming the VA’s healthcare system. One program is focused on SUD and includes the four following projects:
- SUD Treatment and Staffing Handbook Implementation: Impact on Patient Outcome
- Web-based Intervention to Reduce Alcohol Use in Veterans with Hepatitis C
- Improving Quality of Addiction Treatment Quality Measures
- Telemonitoring to Improve Substance Use Disorder Treatment after Detoxification
Resources are expanding for veterans as research continues. Meanwhile, there are multiple resources for veterans and their families currently available. If you are someone you know needs assistance that is veteran friendly, consider the following options:
- Destiny Recovery Center veterans drug and alcohol treatment center
- Veteran’s Crisis Line provides 24/7 confidential crisis support for veterans and their loved ones; call 988, then Press 1
- Wounded Warrior Project assists in locating programs and resources for veterans, including assisting in transportation to treatment centers
Many veterans are living with multiple diagnoses. Destiny Recovery Center also provides dual diagnosis treatment that can support the treatment of SUD along with a mental health disorder. Being treated for both diagnoses simultaneously allows for a team to collaborate and provide a complete approach to treatment. Destiny Recovery Center will also ensure that an aftercare plan is in place and manageable for veterans.
There are resources available if you are, or someone you know is a veteran living with substance use disorder (SUD). Destiny Recovery Center offers a program for veterans within a small home-like setting. Those attending our program will be welcomed by compassionate staff and offered the comforts of home while being able to recover and reflect with various therapy options. Destiny Recovery Center will assist you by creating an individual, evidence-based treatment program based on your specific needs and background. Our staff is prepared to ensure you become confident in your recovery. If you or someone you know is living with SUD, call Destiny Recovery Center today at (909) 413-4304 to see how we can help.