Veterans who spent time, and often blood and sweat, defending the country are at a high risk of becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol.
A veteran is more likely to become an addict than the civilian population. This is due to various reasons, including pain from injuries suffered during service and PTSD. The experience changes many who go into the military. Not all of those changes are for the better.
How Does the Addiction Happen to Veterans?
There aren’t just one or two reasons that so many people in the military eventually become addicts. It is a host of factors that we’ll touch on below.
For starters, the military is often where young people are first exposed to drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. When there is nothing to do, many young soldiers and sailors turn to drink to cure their boredom and pass the time when they aren’t on duty.
This eventually catches up to them. It might affect them during their time in the military, or it might only become a problem after they have left service. If it becomes a problem while they are still wearing the uniform, it could lead to disciplinary punishment. They may even be kicked out, although there are military programs aimed at helping curb unhealthy drinking and get servicemembers healthy.
Of course, just because someone is in the service doesn’t mean they will develop a problem. Many people will drink while in the service but won’t become addicted. Many other factors are involved, including genetic predisposition and having family members who are addicts.
Adjustment can be difficult when someone gets out of the military and is thrust back into the civilian world. This is especially true for those who are suffering from PTSD from their time in the service. Getting and holding a job can sometimes be challenging because of injuries sustained in the military. Those injuries could require pain meds, and those can become addictive. Some veterans end up homeless, leading to greater addiction risk.
As you can see, there are just as many ways for a veteran to become addicted as for a civilian. The problem is that vets often have those underlying factors like PTSD that aren’t as prevalent in the civilian world. Combined, these issues put the veteran community at a higher risk of developing substance use disorders.
What Types of Drugs Are a Problem in the Veteran Community?
You will find that the types of drugs used by veterans tend to be the same as those used by others with substance abuse disorders. Alcohol tends to be a major issue since it is legal and easy to get. Prescription pills are a problem, as well, especially for those who have been injured. However, heroin and other opioids, along with methamphetamine, are also a problem in the community.
Why Don’t Some Vets Reach Out for Help?
For those who have never been in the military, it can often be hard to understand why some veterans don’t seek help. You will find that it is not just one reason, but it tends to be several.
For starters, many vets feel they should be able to handle things independently. Even when they are struggling, hurting, and in need of help, some have a problem reaching out and asking for a hand. It is this attitude of pride and embarrassment that cause many problems. When they were in the military, they could rely on the people around them, but asking strangers for help is hard for them.
Some veterans do not want to admit that they need help. This may be true for those who are dealing with pain and PTSD. They might know there are problems, but they want to find ways to handle those issues on their own… and this can lead to more trouble because it may lead to them taking drugs and coping with alcohol to “ease their problems”.
Help Is Available
Veterans might feel like they don’t have anywhere to turn, especially if they have had trouble getting proper care. Fortunately, veterans can get the care and attention needed to help them deal with their addiction issues through the Sobriety Centers of New Hampshire. SCNH is a proud partner of the VA Community Care Network. Take the time to reach out and explain your situation.
If you or a loved one is a veteran suffering from addiction, talk with the experts to learn more about your options and the available paths. It is time to get the help you need so you can get your life back.