About 1 out of every 3 veterans getting treated for substance use disorder is also suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to the Department of Veteran Affairs.
Unfortunately, as with other forms of mental illnesses, some people suffering from PTSD turn to drugs..
A recent study, Improving Substance Use Care: Addressing Barriers to Expanding Integrated Treatment Options for Post-9/11 Veterans, sheds light on a few barriers veterans face for receiving treatment for substance misuse:
Many veterans also believe that they can handle their alcohol or drug use problems on their own (Britt et al., 2011; Stecker et al., 2007). In addition, veterans with co-occurring disorders may be particularly resistant to care, especially when they report high levels of avoidance behaviors (Ouimette et al., 2011), such as a tendency to use substances to cope with PTSD symptoms (Jakupcak et al., 2010; Kehle et al., 2012; Boden et al., 2013; Elliott et al., 2015; Grant, Pedersen, and Neighbors, 2016).
In addition, according to the study, the fact that many treatment facilities require those receiving care to completely stop using drugs, may hinder vets who feel like they need to use substances to cope with their mental illness.
The VA offers a number of options for those seeking treatment for substance use problems. These options include therapy, either alone with the therapist or in a group, as well as medications to help veterans reduce their use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Get more information on those programs.
A website and online community called Make the Connection, aims to connect veterans and their loved ones with helpful treatment resources and other veterans for support.
More Information about Substance Use and Veterans
Understanding PTSD and Substance Use (National Center for PTSD)
Supporting Student-Veterans on Campus: Lessons from Lived Experience (CampusDrugPrevention.gov)