Helping Military Personnel Find Freedom From Addiction

For those who have proudly served in the armed forces, the battle isn’t over after the uniform comes off. Many veterans struggle with addiction, and finding freedom from it is an ongoing struggle. Fortunately, there are resources available to help military personnel on their journey to sobriety.

According to research by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an estimated 1.9 million veterans had a substance use disorder in 2018, and an additional 1.5 million had alcohol dependency. Experiencing war-related trauma often leads to depression, anxiety, and emotional difficulties after a veteran returns home. This can then lead to drug and alcohol abuse.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides numerous resources and programs for veterans struggling with addiction. These include:

• The Residential Rehabilitation and Recovery Program: This is a residential program provided by the VA for Veterans recovering from addiction. This program offers individual and group therapies that focus on topics such as life management, coping strategies, 12-step principles, relapse prevention, and more.

• The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): SAMHSA’s Veterans’ Health Initiative (VHI) provides information about treatment services specifically for veterans. In addition to providing a variety of resources, such as a national help line, this website also contains a directory of providers that offer veteran-specific services.

• Veterans’ Treatment Courts: These courts provide an alternative to traditional criminal justice proceedings for veterans who have committed crimes due to substance abuse. This program offers therapy, medical care management, job training, and housing assistance to veterans as they work toward overcoming their addiction.

• The Veterans Health Administration (VHA): VHA provides mental health services to veterans. This includes treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders, and other mental health conditions. VHA also offers specialized programs for veterans with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.

• The Veterans Incarcerated Transition Program (VITP): VITP provides veterans with the support they need to transition successfully from incarceration into the community. This includes connecting veterans to employment opportunities, benefits, and necessary housing and health care.

• Homeless Veterans Reintegration Programs (HVRPs): This program offers education, job training, and employment services to veteran who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. HVRPs are designed to help veterans transition out of homelessness, and remain in stable and secure housing.

These programs are just a few of the many available to veterans struggling with addiction. Additionally, the VA provides numerous supportive services, such as vocational rehabilitation, employment services, housing assistance, and family counseling.

In addition to accessing programs specifically designed for veterans, there are other steps veterans can take to find freedom from addiction.

• Seek professional help: It’s important for veterans to find professional treatment they can trust. While many veterans find group programs helpful, individual therapy and counseling can also be beneficial. It’s important to look for providers that have experience working with veterans, and who understand the unique challenges they face.

• Find a supportive community: Whether through religious services, support groups, or social activities, it’s important for veterans to find a community that will offer emotional and moral support. It’s vital that veterans find a safe, supportive environment where they can talk about their struggles and build healthy relationships.

• Get active: Exercise is a great way to improve mental and physical health. It can also help tackle cravings, reduce stress, and boost confidence. Incorporating physical activity into their day-to-day routine can also help veterans stay sober.

• Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness meditation can help veterans relieve stress, cope with difficult emotions, and gain insight into their problems. Taking time to be mindful and aware of the present moment can also be a helpful way to manage cravings.

The road to sobriety is long and difficult, but it’s not impossible. With help and support, veterans can find freedom from addiction. By taking advantage of the resources offered by the VA, veterans can get the support they need to live healthier, happier lives.

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