|There are an estimated 23.4 million veterans in the United States, and about 2.2 million military service members and 3.1 million immediate family members. A recent study of veterans showed that approximately a 25% of vets 18-25 years old met the criteria for a substance use disorder in the previous year. Older veterans also have high rates of substance abuse.Veterans suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) are more likely to have substance abuse problems, and vice versa. Alcohol and drugs abuse can often be an attempt to self-medicate in response to traumatic memories. Today’s statistics are daunting;
- Up to 75% of individuals who have experienced violent or abusive trauma report problems with alcohol.
- Up to 33% of survivors of traumatic disasters, accidents, or illnesses report drinking problems.
- Alcohol abuse is more common among individuals who have chronic pain or continuing health problems due to a past traumatic experience.
- The VA reports that in 2011, 476,515 veterans with primary or secondary PTSD received treatment.
- Among veterans in VA care who have been diagnosed with PTSD, 27% also have a substance abuse disorder.
- Conversely, approximately one-third of veterans with a substance abuse disorder also suffer from PTSD.
- Among Afghanistan/Iraq veterans, 1 in 5– 18.5% – suffer from PTSD.
- Between 60% and 80% of Vietnam veterans have a problem with alcohol use.
- Veterans age 65 or older who have PTSD are at an elevated risk for suicide if they also suffer from depression or have a problem with alcohol.
Targeted Treatment for Substance Abuse and PTSD
PTSD is a mood disorder that is the result of witnessing or experiencing intense trauma. The symptoms for post-traumatic stress are similar to those of other mood disorders in some cases, as they can include anxiety and depression. This prevalence of substance abuse and PTSD among veterans creates a special need for substance abuse treatment that can take into account the complicating factors of PTSD. It is important to fine-tune treatment to meet this need, as well as to manage the particular issues and stigma that surround these disorders in military veterans.
Studies have found that an integrated dual treatment for PTSD and substance abuse, is the most effective, treating both disorders at the same time. Because the disorders tend to feed into each other, it is much harder to recover from one if the other is not treated. Treatments used by TruVida recovery include:
These types of treatment have been shown to provide benefit for both reducing substance abuse and helping to manage PTSD symptoms. A program of treatments can be adjusted as needed to meet the individual’s specific needs.
Common causes of substance abuse disorders among Veterans?
- High incidence of PTSD
- High incidence of mental health disorders
- Traumatic brain injuries
- High incidence of substance misuse during active service
- Altered mechanisms of coping with stress
Being a woman
- Inability to recognize or acknowledge that there is a problem
Reluctance to seek help
For additional Internet resources for co-occurring PTSD and Substance Abuse disorders, visit;
SAMHSA Veterans and Military Families
Veterans Crisis Line
LifeLine for VETS
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