The Problem Of Substance Abuse Among Veterans

There have been many studies about veterans when it comes to substance abuse. These studies have been necessary to see the relationship between the two. That way we know the best options for handling it and treatment.

Being deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan and experiencing combat are known to affect alcohol abuse directly. This includes increased drinking, heavy drinking, and even binge drinking. It can be hard to cope with stress like war or death, so people in the military try to manage their emotions with alcohol. It’s a form of self-medication, but it doesn’t truly help.

Abusing prescription drugs is a common trend in the United States. This has sadly followed over to the military as well. Veterans are often prescribed pain meds for their injuries or anxiety meds to help with PTSD. They can end up abusing the drugs far too easily.

Addiction In Veterans

Being in combat and facing the trauma of war can take its toll on veterans. It’s no surprise that many veterans come back scarred and needing help. Being on a long deployment can strain relationships and make veterans not know how to react with their loved ones.

They might struggle with unemployment or feel isolated and lonely. There are many reasons veterans may find themselves with an addiction problem. It can be very jarring coming back to “regular” life.

About 7 percent of veterans suffer from substance abuse problems. Issues with mental health or substance abuse are the leading cause of hospitalizations in the United States. Many veterans suffer from both but don’t get the treatment they need.

Having dealt with war, veterans don’t even remember how to handle daily life. They struggle to fit back in. The use of illegal drugs within the veteran community is lower than the regular population.

Veterans often struggle with PTSD, depression, and anxiety. This can often be traced back to the trauma they experienced while at war. They have prescribed drugs to treat these conditions. Without being correctly monitored through this use can get out of control. They can become physically dependent and start having drug-seeking behaviors.

The abuse of prescription drugs is actually two and a half times higher when it comes to the military than civilians.  That is quite a bit of a leap to make.

The studies of veterans have shown that more than 40 percent of veterans have abused alcohol at some point in their lives. Veterans are the kind of people who usually try to hide their problems out of shame. This means the problems get worse before people even notice.

This can also cause dangerous reactions. This can include domestic violence or the tendency to binge drink. Those with PTSD are also known to drink themselves to death. Alcohol to handle trauma is all too common.

Veterans have higher abuse rates when it comes to tobacco, alcohol, and prescription drugs than civilians. It is actually increasing every day.

Reasons veterans turn to substance abuse include:

  • High incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder
  • High incidence of mental health conditions
  • Combat exposure
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • History of substance misuse during active service
  • Chronic pain due to overuse and injuries
  • Inability to cope with stress
  • Difficulty in transitioning to civilian life
  • Stressors of being a woman in the military
  • Inability to recognize or acknowledge the problem
  • Reluctance to seek help due to stigma

1 in 10 soldiers that have come back from time in Iraq and Afghanistan have substance abuse issues. This is a problem that needs to be considered.