A study by the Department of Defense revealed that 1.3 percent of active duty personnel admitted to prescription drug misuse in the past 12 months. The overall prevalence of illicit drug use (including prescription drug misuse) was 12 percent.
Left unchecked, soldiers with dependency issues are likely to carry these problems into their civilian lives. The Office of Veterans Affairs (OVA) now has a page on its website dedicated to substance abuse and resources the VA federal agency.
Veteran’s 24 Hr. Helpline – 1-800-273-8255 (click it to call it)
Through the VA, veterans can access some of the following services:
- Medically treated detox
- Substitute therapies for opiate addiction, medicines such as methadone and buprenorphine
- Residential and outpatient treatment for addiction
- Marriage and family counseling
- Relapse prevention therapies
For veterans and their families, it’s vital to apply for VA healthcare to ensure access to any needed treatment resources.
- NOTE: veterans discharged for dependency or addiction issues are often ineligible for these benefits due to VA regulations.
In these cases, it’s that much more important that local communities take responsibility for the women and men that served, only to return worse off than when they left. Local veterans organizations are a good first starting place for vets who lack access to treatment for addiction and other mental health issues.
Veterans have the highest rate if suicides, among any demographic in America. According to Wikipedia, it is estimated 20 veterans commit suicide ever day. Their risk of suicide is about 22 percent higher than nonveteran peers. This is according to a report last year from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Here is a list of some of the possible reasons why the suicide rate is so high, according the Chicago Tribune. Visit the Suicide website, here.
Veterans Lifeline: 800 273 8255
Rather than simply thanking a troubled veteran for their service and moving on, community leaders, healthcare providers and citizens should reach out so that these brave men and women aren’t waging a painful personal war all by themselves.
Fighting A New Enemy at Home
America is at war. Veterans of the U.S. armed forces understand this better than anyone else. These are the brave women and men that answered the call to serve and defend their country. While the nation continues to deploy soldiers to various conflicts around the globe, many veterans returning home find themselves battling a new and different kind of enemy.
- Veterans live with much higher rates of substance abuse and addiction.
“Veterans with multiple deployments, combat exposure and related injuries are at greatest risk of developing substance use problems,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Among soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported the following statistics:
- Over half had more than one mental health or substance use disorder
- The rate of PTSD among veterans was 3.5 percent higher than the civilian population
- A staggering 25 percent were diagnosed with PTSD, depression, anxiety or chemical dependency
Combat exposure affects virtually every aspect of a person’s mental and physical well-being. There are sustained periods of high-intensity stress, the fear and reality of life threatening injuries, as well as bearing witness to human suffering, that some soldiers are unable to forget as they try to transition back into normal society.
In many cases, veterans are left to cope with undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and physical pain that drives them to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. They also fall prey to a medical system that overprescribes opiate painkillers for pain.
“The troops, if they got hurt they’d just shove you a bag of pills, “Mike McDonel, who served several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, told NPR. “You never got a bottle and knew what was in it; you always got a baggie. Everything under the sun, from Adderall to Percocet to hydrocodone, oxycodone, you name it.”
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