Veterans are at risk of becoming dependent on alcohol or other substances partly because of what they see and experience in the military. They often use alcohol and other substances to mask PTSD and other mental health struggles. A substance use disorder can be a serious problem for veterans in many ways. It can affect their health and safety, relationships, and careers, but most importantly it can make them feel alone in their pain.
Fortunately, there is help available through a wide variety of programs. The first step is to recognize the signs that indicate that you or someone close to you may have a substance use disorder and then take action by seeking treatment for your addiction as soon as possible.
- Veterans May Use Alcohol or Drugs to Cope With Trauma
- Veterans Show Symptoms of Alcohol or Drug Dependence
- Veterans Experience Blackouts or Memory Loss When Drinking Alcohol
- Veterans Drink Alone
- The Veteran Has a History of Abusing Alcohol or Drugs
- Veterans Who Self-Medicate
It’s very common for veterans to turn to alcohol or drugs to deal with trauma. Veterans with PTSD are more likely than non-veterans with PTSD or nonmilitary controls to have experienced alcohol dependence at some point in their lives. Research has shown that alcohol use can make PTSD symptoms worse, which can lead to increased stress levels and anxiety. Veterans often fear getting mental health help while they are in the military because they may be kicked out of the service. So instead, they use alcohol to treat themselves. However, alcohol can make it harder to treat PTSD, which poses problems for mental health professionals.
One sign that a veteran needs rehab is that they show symptoms of dependence on alcohol or drugs. This can include an increased tolerance level. The body adapts to the effect of alcohol, so veterans will need more of it to feel drunk. Dependence can also look like an increased frequency of drinking. Veterans may start drinking every day or several times a day, rather than just on weekends or special occasions like they used to.
They may also experience extreme withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking suddenly or cut back. This can include sweating, nausea, vomiting, and shaking. It’s important to look for alcohol and drug rehab for veterans in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, or wherever they take VA benefits. Detoxing solo can be very dangerous, and these rehab programs offer medical detox solutions to veterans who need them.
Alcohol can cause memory loss and blackouts. If you drink too much, it is possible that your brain simply forgets some of what happened during the drinking session. This can include forgetting how much alcohol you drank or even who was present at the time. If a veteran starts to experience these blackouts in memory, it’s critical to seek out professional help through an alcohol rehab program.
Drinking alone often is a sign of alcohol dependence and an indicator that you need to go through a rehab program. When veterans always drink alone or in secret, even if they don’t think they’re addicted, they likely need help. Veterans may not realize that they are addicted to alcohol. They may think their drinking is normal, or they might be embarrassed about having an addiction. They also may believe they have control over when and how much they drink, making them feel like being an alcoholic doesn’t apply to them.
Veterans with a history of substance abuse need to be extra careful when it comes to their mental health. Veterans are more likely than civilians to have a co-occurring mental illness, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. A history of drug or alcohol abuse is one of the most common warning signs for veterans who may need alcoholism treatment. Veterans with PTSD could also be at risk if they’ve been using drugs or alcohol as an escape from their symptoms. This behavior can lead them into dangerous situations without realizing it until it’s too late.
If the veteran is self-medicating with alcohol to cope with PTSD, nightmares, anxiety, and depression, then it’s a good sign that they need alcohol or drug treatment. Veterans with PTSD may experience nightmares or flashbacks related to their trauma, which can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair. In an attempt to cope with these symptoms, many veterans turn toward self-medicating with alcohol or drugs. This only exacerbates and worsens their symptoms over time.