As a military veteran, you may be one of the millions of former service personnel seeking help for an addiction. In fact, addiction among veterans has been sharply increasing over the past several years, although the reasons former military personnel suffer from substance abuse problems vary greatly from person to person. Even though there may not be alcohol rehabilitation programs that specifically treat veterans, there are specialized programs that seek to help those who suffer from PTSD and psychological disorders alongside their addictions.
This requires establishing a dual diagnosis and outlining a treatment program that includes mental health treatment in addition to addiction treatment. As you look for a rehabilitation facility, it will be important to find out which ones understand the complexities involved in treating people who served in the military. For many veterans, there’s difficulty in adjusting to civilian life. As they return home, they find themselves alone without any other veterans to talk to on a daily basis. Civilians who haven’t served in the military won’t understand the issues that affect veterans, particularly those who served in times of war, so the veteran has nowhere to turn for support. Ultimately, this leads them to use alcohol as a means of coping with their new situation. Additionally, many veterans suffer from PTSD and other mental health issues that affect their ability to function normally in society.
Even if they receive treatment for their addiction, they will likely relapse quickly if their underlying mental health issues aren’t addressed. In most cases, this will require continuing mental health therapy long after they have started seeing a therapist in an addiction rehabilitation center. The physical disabilities that resulted from their service in the military can also serve as triggers for veterans. Those who have lost the use of their limbs are typically dealing with chronic pain, feelings of hopelessness, and severe depression. These emotions and many other adverse internal feelings lead veterans to turn to alcohol or drugs, so a rehabilitation program will have to address these issues as well.
What Types of Therapy Benefit Veterans
Alcohol rehabilitation programs of all types use many of the same types of therapy because they are effective in helping recovering addicts stay clean and sober. These therapies include group support meetings and one-on-one sessions with addiction counselors. The goals of these types of therapies are to help recovering addicts recognize the reasons they turn to alcohol, which are commonly defined as triggers. They also teach coping mechanisms for staying clean, such as avoiding triggers, adopting healthier hobbies, and alleviating stress in their lives. While these treatments are effective, those suffering from additional mental illnesses must also receive co-current treatment for their PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. Military veterans should join a program in New Jersey that offers therapy that will address their unique issues. This means teaching veterans how to cope with episodes relating to their PTSD in a variety of circumstances, including training them to recognize when they are experiencing a vivid flashback.
Some exercises that help include teaching a veteran to recognize objects in the real world as they experience a flashback, or they may be taught to end a flashback by touching or grabbing an arm or a finger. Additionally, veterans will participate in physical therapy that’s designed to help them cope with chronic physical pain that results from their disabilities. This is an important process because it will limit their need for prescription medications and other addictive substances. By using a variety of methods, veterans can reduce physical pain, which can serve as a trigger for relapse.
Some examples of physical therapy of this type include:
- Yoga and meditation
- Deep tissue massage therapy
- Chiropractic care
In addition to therapies intended to help veterans cope with mental and physical disabilities, this type of alcohol rehabilitation program will also address the life skills that veterans may be lacking. Many veterans joined the military right after graduating from high school and spend their early adult lives living on military bases. This means they lack the real-world experiences that they need to survive in civilian society.
During an alcohol rehabilitation program, recovering veterans are taught the life skills they will need, including how to build and use credit, how to maintain a monthly budget, and how to save for retirement. If you are a veteran struggling with alcoholism, call our counselors at 833-610-1174. We’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help you find the treatment program that’s best for you.