The Veteran Rehab Center: Help For Our Defense Forces

Rehabs for veterans

Post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, and substance abuse occur more often among ex-military personnel than the general population. The demands of military service, fear, anxiety, long-term separation from loved ones, and physical injuries can make even the most resilient person vulnerable to drug or alcohol abuse. Veteran rehab programs address these needs, offering services to help one deal with the effects of addiction and the psychological repercussions of combat.

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Considerations of Drug Rehab for Veterans

A group of soldiers paying respectsPosttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is frequently an underlying factor for substance abuse among both current and former military service members. This severe, chronic mental condition causes sleep disturbances, flashbacks to traumatic events experienced in the line of duty, depression, restlessness, anxiety and irritability. According to data of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS), 25 percent of army veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, depression or substance abuse. More than 50% had more than one substance abuse or mental health disorder. Just under 15% were diagnosed with PTSD, which is 3.5 percent higher compared to the general population. Older ex-military members also suffer from PTSD, which shows that this disorder can have pervasive, long-term effects. All these aspects must be taken into account in the context of veterans’ rehabilitation and treatment.

Exponential Demand for Veteran Alcohol Rehab

Statistics of the National Center for PTSD show that four out of five Vietnam War veterans have alcohol abuse issues. Former military members with PTSD resort to binge drinking to manage traumatic flashbacks and episodes of anxiety or depression, which exacerbates the illness. The symptoms listed below are all worsened by alcohol abuse:

  • Anger and irritability
  • Emotional numbness
  • Depression
  • Nightmares and sleeplessness

A successful veteran rehab program addresses not only addiction, but also the causes and treatment of PTSD. A person will continue relapsing even after rehab unless the psychological trauma is dealt with. Veterans face unique challenges. After returning home, many of them find it difficult to adjust to civilian life. Psychological trauma is not their only problem – there can be marital issues, physical pain, and financial struggles due to inability to get a job. All these factors can lead to substance abuse and exacerbate existing abuse, causing it to spiral into addiction.

Rehab for Veterans: Getting Help Early On

Drug and alcohol addiction is more common among this population, and early treatment can help improve their outcomes. According to a report by the Rand Corporation, providing immediate and effective PTSD and depression treatment would save taxpayers hundreds of millions in the long run. In 2008, 22 percent of officers who were active in Afghanistan and Iraq suffered from PTSD or depression, and just 52 percent of them received treatment. The resulting medical care cost to society was $923 million. If all of them had received high-quality care immediately, this cost would have been $785 million.

Soldier on a desert missionThere has never been a better time to increase the availability of veteran drug rehab programs. Abuse of prescription drugs among the military is on the rise – non-medical use of prescription drugs tripled from 2005 to 2008 according to data of NIDA. 3.5 percent of veterans used marijuana monthly and 0.8 received treatment for drug or alcohol abuse in 2003. Almost 10 percent of former military members reported heavy alcohol use weekly.  According to the Drug Policy Alliance Report of 2009, 30 percent of military members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan had PTSD, depression, traumatic brain injury, or another cognitive disability. 19 percent of them were also diagnosed with chemical addiction or another substance abuse issue. In 2004, about 140,000 former military members were incarcerated in a US state or federal prison, which failed to resolve their addiction issues.

Types of Veteran Rehabilitation Centers

Each of the five branches of the U.S. Military provides alcohol and drug rehabilitation services: the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, and the Air Force. As unbridled drug and alcohol use can affect judgment and impair performance, addiction poses a risk to national security when active-duty service members are affected. Active-duty military personnel are encouraged to report any and all problems with drug or alcohol abuse with the purpose to receive prompt, effective medical treatment. Each branch of the military provides means of preventing and treating drug and alcohol abuse in both active and non-active service members.

Below are some programs offering rehab for veterans:

Marine Corps Community Services Substance Abuse Program: Offers drug and alcohol screening, treatment, substance abuse counseling, case and aftercare management to marines and their families/beneficiaries

Army Substance Abuse Program: Provides substance abuse prevention, therapy, and intensive rehabilitation services for military personnel, their family members and civilian staff

Navy Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation (SARP): Offers screening, counseling and referrals to inpatient or outpatient rehabs for active- and non-active-duty service members, and relatives of Navy personnel

Coast Guard Substance Abuse Program: Provides treatment, education, and training in support of the U.S. Coast Guard’s policies on substance addiction

Air Force Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program (ADAPT): Provides preventive education and treatment to military staff and their families

Perhaps the biggest, most efficient organization providing veteran rehab is the Veterans Alcohol and Drug Dependence Rehabilitation Program. Carried out by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) under the auspice of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, it offers help to former military members suffering from alcohol or drug addiction or abuse. The VA offers veterans nationwide outpatient counseling, medically supervised inpatient rehabilitation, and group therapy. The medical centers also provide the following forms of treatment:

  • Individual counseling to help identify drug or alcohol misuse triggers to avoid relapsing
  • Therapy for the underlying reasons of substance abuse, like PTSD, anxiety, or depression or a combination of all three (it does occur)
  • Access to support groups outside the veterans’ rehabilitation center, such as Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Counseling for family members to help build and nurture relationships in recovery
  • Medication to facilitate recovery from alcohol addiction by suppressing the urge to drink or minimizing symptoms of withdrawal

Soldier in a wheelchairWhile some find support and strength in veterans’ vocational rehab, others prefer to seek private rehabilitation. This may be costlier than state-funded programs, which are included in military benefits. However, people that feel they may have a better chance of recovering in a private facility may find the extra costs worthwhile. Obviously, getting one’s life back on track after struggling with addiction should be top priority.

The Refuge – A Healing Place

The Refuge is an example of a private veterans’ rehab center. It offers customized detoxification plans, which go on 7-10 days on average, most frequently followed by complex inpatient treatment with a certified addiction therapist. Medication is administered using the latest scientific evidence to assist with the detox process including, where appropriate, the pharmaceuticals disulfiram and topiramate for alcohol addiction and buprenorphine and naltrexone for opioid addiction. Nicotine replacement therapy is also available.

Subsequent inpatient care is based on cognitive behavioral therapy. The veterans rehab center utilizes EMDR techniques, motivation therapy, experiential therapy including somatic experiencing, and group therapy. The rehabilitation phase, like the detox phase, is individualized to make sure enough time is provided for healing to occur. The center’s medical staff comply with NIDA, ASAM, and SAMSHA guidelines. Benzodiazepine, prescription drug, cocaine, crack, and methamphetamine addiction treatment is available.

Details of Veterans’ Vocational Rehabs

Those struggling with drug addiction may receive vocational rehab and employment services to facilitate employment training and accommodations and help them acquire new job seeks to maximize their potential of obtaining gainful employment. The VA’s Education and Career Counseling program provides active- and non-active-duty members access to personalized support and counseling to help guide their career paths and put their benefits to the best-possible use. Veterans leave the military with a wide variety of skills and a wealth of professional experience. Employers are given special incentives, such as salary subsidies, to hire former military members.

Family members of veterans who are suffering from drug or alcohol addiction and facing employment challenges are given assistance by the veterans’ vocational rehab organization in terms of higher education and career advancement. It helps them assess their career goals and skills, find a job, improve their educations and work-related abilities, and informs them about job training centers.

In addition, the VA may extend support and vocational counseling to family members of veterans in the following areas:

  • Education and Career Counseling
  • Career Evaluation
  • Readjustment Counseling
  • Educational Assistance and Help for Dependents
  • Benefits for Disabled Children
  • Choosing a School

Soldier with his kid and american flagThe Department of Veteran’s Affairs provides social, medical, vocational, and rehab programs and therapies to eligible veterans who are addicted to alcohol or drugs. The addiction rehab program provides various forms of treatment including detoxification and psychiatric care. Treatment centers are located in the VA medical facilities and clinics. To be eligible for the veterans’ rehab center, the patient has to be enrolled in the Veteran’s Affairs health care system. However, he or she could qualify based on an exception provided for by the law. The program requirements are available here. To get access to these services, the veteran must have been discharged under honorable or general conditions. Those discharged under dishonorable conditions are not accepted as a rule. This shouldn’t deter one from trying to get help – the VA sometimes accepts individuals who have received an undesirable or poor conduct military discharge.

Eligible veterans can apply online via eBenefits for either Education or Career Counseling or Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits. Veterans suffering from a disability do not need to wait to apply.

Veterans Rehabilitation Centers: Outcomes

Both state and private rehab facilities generally report positive outcomes of treatment. For example, the program described above has treated almost 200,000 veterans, of whom at least 30 percent were diagnosed with an alcohol problem. Many of these were referred to specialized veterans’ alcohol rehab centers or program. 19.3 percent of the veterans that received treatment had drug problems, and over 50 percent battled drug and alcohol addiction at the same time.

Rehab programs can provide the following services to veterans with substance abuse or addiction problems:

  • Medications and/or therapy to address psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD
  • Medications to reduce cravings and minimize withdrawal symptoms
  • Coaching to cope with relapse triggers
  • Counseling for couples or families to strengthen damaged relationships
  • Support groups to connect with other members of the community
  • Coping skills to deal with life stressors

Rehab for Veterans: Dare to Hope

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It is never easy to ask for help, especially when one has been trained to “stay strong” and show courage under even the direst of circumstances. Nothing takes more strength and courage than reaching out to others for addiction help. Many veterans also struggle with psychological trauma, physical pain, marital issues, and lack of employment. Addiction professionals at veterans’ rehab centers understand that these patients need unique services in order to recover and live without drugs. The people who served our country shouldn’t have to face the challenges of recovery without help. Medical supervision, intensive counseling, and structured group therapy are crucial elements of military drug and alcohol rehabilitation. A rehabilitation center dedicated to veterans’ needs can give support and hope for the future.

 

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The Veteran Rehab Center: Help For Our Defense Forces

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Comments 6

  • I would like to know if they have a veterans rehab center here, inpatient facilities. I have major depressive disorder and I do drugs for real. Im too ashamed to admit what at the moment. Im not looking for help right now, Im asking if there is a inpatient facility in Providence, Rhode Island area. I think I’m about to hit rock bottom again. My trouble kill me and I do dumb shit man, and Im about to get kicked to the curb from my place and lose my job, because I did drugs at work.

  • I would like to know how to report someone that has been using meth for serval years and he gets military disability money for the rest of his life plus social security benefits also and he has used meth the entire time of receiving both monthly disability payments from the social security disability and military disability.

  • I would like to know how to report someone that has been using meth for serval years and he gets military disability money for the rest of his life plus social security benefits also and he has used meth the entire time of receiving both monthly disability payments from the social security disability and military disability.

  • “He who has not sinned cast the first stone” It’s not your job or responsibility to “rat” anyone with an addiction!!! If you know this person, approach him and ask if he is willing to seek treatment, you want that person arrested and ruin his life??!!! It appears that you resent the fact that he receives two government checks and hasn’t been caught, so you’re going to be the hero to deny him his benefits and incarcerate a veteran that served his country and protected your freedom so you could have the autonomy that
    a lot of people around the world don’t have!!!!
    I’m not angry with you, I’m frustrated in your approach.

    I don’t support his use of drugs, it is wrong and it must stop, before he harms himself or someone else!!!
    As a Christian, I must love thy neighbor and treat him/her with dignity and respect… In the final analysis it will be between him and God, it was never between us.
    If you don’t know this person, drop some rehab literature on his mail box or door steps.

    I’m a Disabled Veteran,
    A combat Vietnam vet and Proud Marine…
    I suffer from chronic back pain, I’ve endured (4) four back surgeries, I’m recovering from my last surgery (reconstruction of my spine with titanium rods and screws January 2019) I’m scheduled for neck surgery in July/August.
    I’ve had diabetes since 1995,
    Had radiation in 2005 and 2013
    for lymphoma due to exposure to Agent Orange, I have other physical and muscle skeletal conditions, I’ve dealt with addiction of opiates and withdraws from long term VA prescribed medications.
    My biggest daily obstacle is
    PTSD, a gift from the Vietnam War.
    At the present time I do not get pain meds from the VA, they don’t prescribe opiates unless you are a cancer patient or close to Death !!!
    “It is Hope that keeps all our suffering in place”
    I know I’ve made this reply into a short story book, but I had a message for you and to inspire Veterans to seek help regardless what it may be!!

    Take care, God bless you and your family….
    What would Jesus Do ??!!

    ” HE WHO ANGERS YOU, CONTROLS YOU”

    “PROACT RATHER THAN REACT”

    I TOO, GET TWO CHECKS, PLEASE DON’T RAT ME OUT!!

    Keep it all confidential, don’t spread unnecessary gossip, let your conscience guide you in the right direction.

    • Your text was spot on. I have been looking to find a way to serve God and give back to society for my past debaucheries. I find myself weeping often when I think about all the chances that I have been given and when I think it through, it usually came from a decent person, a god fearing person, a generous person, a minister/christian or a kind spirited person. You truly reap what you sow. Fifteen years ago I was asked by my father in-law to stand in at the pulpit because he had an emergency to attend. I’m not a minister/pastor but we all have a testimony. In any case, I took out three rounded rocks from my pocket to start the service. I looked at the crowd in the pews and I asked them what they were. Some said rocks and some said stones but what I said was this. ” I’m not the pastor, and If anyone here wants to judge me or doesn’t like my message or my reverence and you try to stone me, then be prepared because I’ll use these stones, to stone you back. Everyone in the audience began to laugh. Our righteousness is like filthy rags to to God.

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