Overcoming Obstacles to Alcohol Sobriety as a Veteran

Published On: January 26, 2022|Categories: Recovery|
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Military veterans face enormous obstacles in returning to civilian society. The pressure of training, the trauma of combat, separation from family and readjusting back to normal life are not easy tasks.

Military service is a great and noble sacrifice. Sadly, the repercussions of that sacrifice are profound, often resulting in heavy drinking and drug use. According to the journal Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, about 11 percent of veterans meet the criteria for a substance use disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Achieving addiction recovery as a veteran is challenging, but possible. If you’ve served our country and are struggling to break free from a substance use disorder, here’s what you need to know.

Professional treatment

Healing from addiction requires professional treatment. While the military teaches cooperation, there’s also an emphasis on toughness and self-reliance. Sadly, this mindset can discourage veterans from seeking treatment, but professional help is the quickest and surest way to recover.

When you’re pursuing alcohol recovery as a veteran, you won’t want to choose just any provider, though. You’ll want to ensure that you’re getting the most personalized and evidence-based services available.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a common treatment for a variety of conditions that affect veterans disproportionately. CBT is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on changing thought patterns to change behavior and mitigate the negative symptoms of mental health disorders, according to Mayo Clinic.

CBT has been shown to improve outcomes in veterans seeking alcohol sobriety according to a study published in the journal Behavioral Therapy. Moreover, CBT has helped veterans reduce problematic symptoms of trauma according to the National Center for PTSD. CBT as part of treatment is also linked to decreased rates of depression and suicidal ideation among veterans. 

Vocational support

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2020 report, about 6.6 percent of veterans are unemployed. Veterans may have difficulty finding and maintaining employment due to several reasons.

Veterans may have skipped higher education to pursue military careers, veterans may have skills that don’t easily translate to today’s workforce, veterans struggle with PTSD at a higher rate, and so on. Regardless of the reason for employment difficulties, finding treatment that includes vocational assistance can improve life-long outcomes.

Housing assistance

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs states that over 37,000 veterans were homeless in 2019. While there are numerous programs available for housing assistance for veterans, navigating the steps to accessing housing assistance is not easy, and housing may not be guaranteed to tenants who struggle with alcohol addictions.

Veterans in addiction recovery are more susceptible to housing insecurity, so having help in this area as part of treatment can mitigate difficulties and triggers to use down the road.

Medication-assisted treatment

Another perk of professional treatment that you’ll want to take advantage of is access to medication-assisted treatment or MAT. MAT programs are designed to help in the early weeks and months of recovery when withdrawal symptoms are the strongest and you’re still learning skills to combat cravings.

A study by the BMJ Military Health Journal found that veterans were less likely than non-veterans to partake in MAT and a self-help group, but outcomes for those who participated in both were significantly better.

Processing memories

Treatment for addiction should always include behavioral or mental health therapy. Therapy is helpful in dismantling addictions because it helps a person to reflect on and analyze his or her own addiction history. When you review your addiction history, rough memories are bound to come up. 

In therapy, you’ll learn how to handle and process tricky memories and the emotions that come with them. No doubt many of these memories will have to do with your service in the military. Understanding those memories and being able to hold them in your mind without distress will offer you life-long healing.

The treatment you need

Seeking alcohol sobriety as a veteran is a unique journey that requires personalized treatment. When you’re ready to get started, reach out to Pyramid Healthcare. At Pyramid Healthcare you can get the help you need from experts who know your situation and have experience working with people in your shoes. Schedule your appointment or call 888-694-9996.

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