Our veterans have experienced things many of us never will. That said, our veterans should never feel that they are alone. Destiny Recovery Center (DRC) and the recovery community we foster help veterans who are struggling with addiction and alcoholism. We are grateful for their sacrifice, and we want to provide for our heroes in any way we can.
Even though our program is a strong support system for veterans getting sober, any good support network should also include other veterans who are also getting clean. There is a unique power a veteran has when helping another veteran. We think it is invaluable. When veterans come to us for treatment, we help connect them with the caring community of other veterans that are there to help.
Veterans in recovery connecting with other veterans present unequaled opportunities for healing and growth for everyone involved. The duty they feel to one another comes through and can pull people out of tough situations. When things are dark, they may be able to relate in ways others can’t. Veterans who find themselves struggling with addiction and other mental health issues should know there are people who understand and want to help. When veterans help other veterans, both parties benefit.
For Those Who Are Struggling
Addiction, or substance use disorder (SUD), affects the lives of Americans everywhere. In the past year, over 46 million people met the applicable DSM-5 criteria for having SUD. Addiction does not distinguish between gender, heritage, profession, or economic class. Veterans are no different. Addiction is a disease; it has nothing to do with a lack of moral fiber, discipline, or willpower. There is no shame associated with struggling with addiction or asking for help.
Veterans and SUD
Service members also face unique circumstances, some of which help protect them from SUD but others that put them at risk. Deployment represents some of the most extreme stresses on the body and mind. Anyone exposed to that level of stress will have to find some way to cope, with some being healthier than others.
The National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has collected data confirming that “deployment is associated with smoking initiation, unhealthy drinking, drug use, and risky behaviors.” Other factors, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety, common to those who have served, increase their risk of developing SUD.
The Value of Fellow Veterans in Recovery
Other veterans can relate to the stresses of military life and deployment like no one else. They know the feeling of losing friends, seeing them hurt, or being wounded yourself, of coming home and trying to adjust to civilian life again. No matter who you are or where you come from, everyone in recovery must find someone who understands their struggles. For veterans, this means finding other veterans who have been in their shoes.
The Importance of Connection
Addiction is a disease that thrives on the feeling of disconnection. When in active addiction, you feel alienated from others. It is common to push family and friends away and isolate yourself. For this disease, the more alone (both mentally and physically) a person is, the better. “When you are alone in your head, you are in a bad neighborhood,” the saying goes. It distorts your perception of reality, buries feelings of connection, and strains even the strongest bonds between people.
However, veterans are not alone. They weren’t alone in the service, and they aren’t now. Re-establishing these bonds, as well as creating new connections to a support network, is essential. While serving, there is a special bond between soldiers. They would lay down their lives for each other. That doesn’t change in recovery. In fact, it takes on a whole new dimension. Your fellow veterans are here to help you regain your life and move forward.
For Recovering Veterans
One of the most effective treatments for the disease of addiction is helping other people struggling. In the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), it states that “practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics.”
This fact is as true for any form of addiction as it is for drinking. If you are in recovery, the “best way to keep what you have is to give it away.” The medicine that is “working with others” who are struggling with the same disease is powerful. Much of that power comes from the recognition of common experiences. For veterans in recovery, this is doubly true when working with other veterans.
Reaching Out to Fellow Veterans
As a fellow veteran, you offer something no one else can. The connection you share through your experiences and the sacrifices you have made make you uniquely qualified to help people like you. Veterans take steps to heal themselves and their fellow soldiers by giving their time and telling their stories.
At DRC, we help bring veterans together so that they can achieve recovery. They deserve to live the life they want, free from the misery of addiction. Soldiers are tough and can be reluctant to ask for help. When you have seen people lose so much, it can be hard to realize that you, too, deserve help. The simplest things can make a difference. Pick up the phone. Grab coffee. Share your experience. Any veteran who misses the connection they felt to their fellow soldiers in the service shouldn’t miss the chance to fight for a better life.
If you are a veteran and you find that you can’t stop drinking or using a substance, reach out for help. At Destiny Recovery Center, we help people regain their freedom and build the lives they want. We make it as easy as possible. Our staff can evaluate your situation to see if our program can offer a better way forward. The most important thing is to know you have options. We are dedicated to helping people break the cycle of addiction. You don’t have to feel this way forever. If you feel isolated, depressed, or hopeless, there is a way out. Call us now at (909) 413-4304 for more information.