Alcohol dependence affects many individuals you will come into contact with throughout your life. Your friend, family member, or acquaintance could be struggling with alcohol dependence. If a loved one you are around was or is an active veteran, there is a higher risk of them dealing with the challenges of alcohol dependence. Understanding why veterans become dependent on alcohol is critical to helping them overcome their addiction and regain access to their everyday lives.
Unique Challenges for Veterans
As a civilian, it may be hard to fully understand the challenges veterans are up against. Military service can be physically and emotionally strenuous for those serving our country. Veterans may witness events that leave lasting scars behind them. Unfortunately, alcohol abuse often becomes an avenue of relief in trying to cope with stress caused by these past experiences.
One of the greatest difficulties veterans with alcohol dependence face is the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction in the military. This stigma can lead them to fear seeking help or appearing weak to their superiors. Without help to overcome their addiction, veterans may suffer in silence until they finally feel comfortable asking for support.
Another key challenge veterans face is the transition back into civilian life after years in the military. Many veterans find this adjustment to be difficult. This transition can lead them to feel isolated and depressed. Alcohol can provide a quick release of these feelings, reinforcing the negative habit of drinking to overcome the difficult emotions they encounter.
Causes of Alcohol Dependency
Understanding what causes alcohol dependency among veterans is vital to helping them break free of addiction. Each veteran’s experience differs, yet some common factors could contribute to alcohol abuse.
History of Trauma
Traumatic events, like combat, may result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health disorders that increase the risk for alcohol abuse among veterans. Veterans who have PTSD may use alcohol as an aid to self-medicate their symptoms of anxiety and insomnia by drinking to ease themselves of these troubles.
Another contributing factor is the culture of military life itself. Military culture can be highly stressful, with long hours and intense physical demands. Those in the military often have the mindset that goals will be accomplished, no matter what the cost is. This mindset can create an atmosphere in which alcohol becomes an escape to relax after an exhausting day at work. Many individuals within the military will drink together after a hard day’s work to release some of their built-up tension.
Adjusting to Normal Life
The transition from military to civilian life can also play a significant role in alcohol dependence. Many veterans find adjusting difficult and may feel disconnected from former comrades and their family and friends after returning home. Alcohol may become an outlet to cope with feelings of isolation while creating familiarity and mentally reconnecting with former comrades through an activity you all used to enjoy.
Options Available to Veterans With Alcohol Dependence
There are various treatment options available to veterans struggling with alcohol dependence. First of all, it is important to acknowledge the severity of the issue and how it has an impact on your everyday life. This recognition can help motivate you to seek help. After recognizing that you want help, it is time to find which resources are available to you and how you can be supported through your journey of overcoming this addiction.
One way of finding help may be through the Veterans Affairs (VA) health system. They offer counseling, medication-assisted treatment, and rehabilitation programs specifically catered to veterans. In addition, there are special programs tailored for veterans who have PTSD or any mental illness which could contribute to alcohol dependence.
Destiny Recovery Center
At Destiny Recovery Center, we take a unique focus on supporting veterans who are struggling with addiction. By working with our team and other individuals in similar circumstances at our facility, you can build a strong support group and foundation to move forward. Our facility recognizes each of the unique challenges discussed above and is ready to help you overcome these with a strong support system behind your back.
We also can work with you to create a treatment plan that is suited to your unique needs and situation. As each client we have has a different background and potential onset of their addiction, we want to ensure that each individual has access to care that is specifically focused on their needs. It may be beneficial to engage in some alternative treatment methods that are outside of regular therapeutic care.
Alternative treatments may include mindfulness meditation, yoga, and equine programming. Such therapies provide veterans with healthy means to cope with stress and trauma without resorting to alcohol as a coping mechanism. Equine programming is a specialty at our facility that can help you regain control of your surroundings and thought processes.
If you or someone you know is a veteran struggling with alcohol dependence, don’t hesitate to seek help. Reach out to the VA or Destiny Recovery Center to learn about the treatment options available. As veterans face unique issues that pose a barrier to seeking help, there are still resources out there and ways to overcome this negative stigmatization. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, and with the right support, veterans can overcome their addictions and lead fulfilling lives. To learn more about overcoming alcohol dependence, how this occurs in veterans, and how to find access to help, reach out to Destiny Recovery Center today at (909) 413-4304.