Soldiers put their lives on the line to protect our country and maintain peace, making them heroes that deserve our thanks and recognition. It’s so ingrained in our society that it’s encompassed in one familiar scene: a soldier returning from home, celebrating the freedom they defended. While the solider is happy to come home and embrace their family members, there is a haunting reality that often sets in: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health challenges. War is traumatic, and it leaves many men and women with unseen emotional scars that can last for a lifetime.
The importance of military is undeniable, and these brave individuals risk their safety while facing unimaginable situations that have a long-term impact on their psyche. These challenges can lead to substance abuse at times because of the psychological injury that happens over years. While the person is coping and trying to keep up with daily life, it is common for a need to seek professional addiction recovery support.
Overcoming War-Zone Stress
Commonly, military personnel turn to substances as a way to cope with the high levels of stress that they faced in war zones. Even if the person can make it through the deployment with seemingly minimal mental impact, the psychological trauma can still exist and start to surface later in life. As a result, it is natural for the person to turn to coping mechanisms to numb the pain. Medical professionals have found that PTSD and substance abuse are often co-occurring, especially among Veterans.
The use of coping mechanisms can vary from one person to the next and might include heavy use of tobacco, binge drinking, abuse of prescription drugs, or use of illegal drugs. These problems are common among the general population, but the rates are often higher among military personnel.
Another concern is the way the opioid epidemic is racing through the population. Soldiers face physical demands that can lead to chronic injuries. These injuries are at times sustained in the war zones. But, there are instances where non-combat injuries can also occur because of wear and tear on the body from training, carrying heavy equipment and more.
When a person is in chronic pain, doctors often prescribe opioids to reduce the symptoms. But, addiction can be the result when someone is using these medications, and the addictive behaviour often starts in a little to no time at all.
Even though the use of illicit drugs is typically lower among members of the armed forces, the risk of prescription drug abuse is a growing problem. As a result, it often becomes necessary to seek professional substance abuse treatment to assist with recovery.
Personalizing the Treatment Plan
The key to an effective addiction treatment program is to personalize the treatment based on the root of the addiction. In the case of military personnel, not only does the person need help with detoxing from the substance, but they also need to overcome the mental challenges that surface as a result of PTSD. Addressing the psychological distress is key to minimize the long-term impact so that the person can overcome the addiction.
Fortunately, many options are available for someone who is working toward recovery from drugs and alcohol. In some cases, an inpatient treatment program might be the right solution to help the person regain control over their life again. In other situations, an outpatient program could be the best fit.
The key is to choose an addiction recovery program that can be catered to individual needs. Rather than assuming that the same treatment will work for every person, it is important to find the treatments that optimize the success of each person. Not only does the type of treatment vary, but the duration of the treatment program also needs to be adjusted.
While the prevalence of addiction among military personnel is high, it is important to remember that there is hope in recovery. Finding the right treatment program can be a life-changing experience to help the person live a normal life once again.