Veterans, PTSD and Addiction

Veterans, PTSD and Addiction

A vulnerable class of Americans: Veterans, PTSD and Addiction

Veterans often cope with stress after returning from multiple deployments. They may also suffer from illnesses and injuries that can contribute to a substance use disorder. Addiction delays an already complex social reintegration process and can have negative repercussions. However, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers treatment plans to support veterans as they recover from substance use disorders.

Many veterans wrestle with stress from deployments to combat zones. The stressful military life coupled with injuries and illnesses puts them at an increased risk for substance use disorders. A growing number of veterans turn to drugs to cope with the pressure of societal reintegration after the military.

  • With a 52.7 percent increase in outpatient veterans treated for substance abuse disorders from 1995 to 2013, it is undeniable that addiction is a major concern among the veteran community.
  • Between 2006 and 2009, the army reported that more than 45 percent of the 397 noncombat related deaths investigated were the result of an alcohol or drug overdose.

Substance use and abuse often starts during military service and can be exasperated by deployment cycles, combat and subsequent PTSD and other challenges after separation from the military. Veterans do not have to walk this path alone. There are many Federal, State, Local and non-governmental support agencies and companies that are a great starting point to learn more about available resources for Veterans.


PTSD affects millions of Americans

Frequently co-occurring among people with substance use disorders, PTSD is a debilitating mental disorder that affects people who have lived through a traumatic event or prolonged trauma. Simultaneous treatment for substance abuse disorders and PTSD has been shown to alleviate symptoms of both disorders and often is the only lifeline to save people drowning in the afflictions of the disorders.

  • 7.7 million American adults have PTSD
  • 1 out of 3 people seeking treatment for substance use disorders have PTSD
  • 65 percent of people with PTSD have a co-occurring substance use disorder
  • 8 percent of Americans develop PTSD at some point in their lives
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental anxiety disorder that develops after an individual experiences or witnesses a traumatic, tragic, terrifying or life-threatening event. People suffering from PTSD experience flashbacks to the traumatic event and a sensitivity to emotional or mental triggers that remind them of the experience, causing negative changes in their lifestyles and an inability to achieve normal goals or objectives. Events that lead to PTSD include war or military combat, accidents, physical or sexual assault, abuse, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, bombings, and events in which individuals are injured. Among those with PTSD, co-occurring disorders are frequent, as high rates of combinations of depression and other anxiety disorders with substance addiction are usually found in these individuals. Source:

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