For most people, active duty is considered the hardest part of serving in the military. But, for many veterans, the difficulty happens not when you’re deployed, but when you’re asked to go home. Reintegrating into civilian life can be difficult and traumatic for many, leading to significant reliance on drugs, alcohol, and prescription medication. As a result, 1.3 million, or 7.8% of all veterans had a substance use disorder in 2020.
In addition, more than half of all veterans show problematic relationships with drugs and alcohol. According to National Institute on Drug Abuse Military Substance Abuse statistics, over 555,000 veterans abuse prescription opioids. 48% regularly binge drink. And, 2.6 million, or 12.8% of the total population abuse marijuana.
It’s undeniable that military service greatly increases risks of drug and alcohol abuse and therefore of addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling, there is help.
Veterans often have significantly higher rates of substance abuse and addiction than the general population. That’s especially true in veterans who retired from military service within the last twenty years, where rates of substance addiction are almost twice that of the general population. However, for all groups, addiction and abuse are significantly higher. For example, just over 10% of the U.S. general population qualifies as having a substance use disorder. That goes up to 12.7% of all veterans who retired in 2001 or later.
Of course, those numbers decline over time. As veterans are able to receive treatment, move into care facilities, and get the help they need, rates of addiction go down. Just 3.7% of pre-Vietnam era veterans have a substance use disorder, and Persian Gulf War veterans have addiction rates of slightly lower than the general population.
Veterans are exposed to stress, trauma, and pressure that civilians rarely face. That ranges from the simple pressure of changing lifestyle and dropping personal free time to being exposed to trauma in war zones. That leads to increases in instances of PTSD, military trauma, depression, anxiety, and paranoia. And, each of these disorders makes that person more vulnerable to abusing substances and more vulnerable to addiction.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is also one of the largest risks of substance use disorder in veterans, with 86% of veterans with PTSD binge drinking and 20% suffering from a co-occurring substance use disorder.
In addition, veterans are very prone to using substances to self-medicate. This often results from being put in situations where the individual has to be self-reliant or to appear tough. The natural reaction is to use substances, act as though everything is okay, and “keep going”. Yet, for many, that results in increasing difficulties keeping up, worsening mental health problems, and increasing struggles to fit in with everyday life outside of the military.
As a result, 21% of all veterans seeking substance use disorder treatment are homeless. While 64% of all homeless persons are estimated to have a substance use disorder, having a similar percentage of the general population struggling with homelessness would increase homelessness from around 550,000 to over 8.5 million. That’s often linked with struggles to fit into previously normal routines and to re-adapt to life outside of the military, which further pushes drug and alcohol abuse.
If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, there are plenty of options for you to seek out treatment. Among those include support through government-supported treatment programs, private treatment programs for veterans like the one at Asana Recovery, and outpatient treatment programs.
The VA has 96 treatment locations across the U.S., which attempt to offer drug and alcohol treatment for 3.9 million veterans with drug and alcohol problems. If you want to see if you qualify:
1. Use the assessment on Benefits.com
2. Check your Basic Medical Benefits Package for Veterans
3. Check your priority group. If you’re in group 1-3, you can likely receive help fairly quickly. You are not in this group if you do not have a VA disability rating, POW status, or have not been awarded a Medal of Honor or Purple Heart. Everyone else will have longer wait times.
If you qualify, you can get on a waitlist, which will range from 3 days to over 6 months, depending on the facility. Because most have a backlog, most facilities simply do not accept new applicants, which may mean you have to travel to go to treatment. You can check expected wait times for your area here.
While VA-provided care is a good choice for many, especially if your area has available treatment options, moving into private care can greatly speed up your access to care. If you need more space, private residential care, or specialty treatment that your VA might not be able to provide, we can help.
In addition, our treatment is covered by insurance. You can use our insurance form or contact us to check how much of your care is covered by your insurance provider or fill out or free insurance verification form here.
Seeking treatment at Asana Recovery will mean that you can move into treatment more quickly, will have more close contact with physicians, counselors, and psychologists, and will have the benefit of a personalized treatment program, which we adapt to your needs as you receive treatment.
Asana Recovery maintains a medical detox center, meaning we can offer medically assisted detox. If you come to our facility while still struggling with drugs or alcohol, we can ensure that you have a safe and comfortable detox. That may include medication to reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It may also include medication to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms or to prevent further opioid abuse.
If you live in or near Orange County, you can attend our outpatient program. This treatment plan includes either intensive outpatient or partial hospitalization based on your needs. However, it means staying in your own home and visiting our treatment facility 4-6 days per week – where, you receive counseling, therapy, and treatment. Outpatient programs are a good way to reduce the costs of treatment, especially if you’re also receiving Medication-Assisted Treatment at the same time, which would make it harder for you to relapse during treatment.
Asana Recovery offers residential or inpatient treatment across Orange County. Our focus is on providing small, home-like facilities, where you can comfortably stay with a small group of peers to receive the direct support and contact with counselors, nurses, and therapists that you need. That’s why we offer five different treatment facilities in Orange County. You’ll be able to stay in a small group, with treatment dedicated to veterans. Here, you’ll receive 24/7 care, medical monitoring, and support. And, because you’ll be living at the clinic, you’ll have access to ongoing amenities, complementary treatments, and education that will help to improve your recovery and your transition back to everyday life.
Most veterans actively abuse alcohol, with 52% regularly binge drinking. That goes up to 86% for those struggling with PTSD. With 65% of veterans entering treatment programs reporting alcohol as the primary substance they abuse, alcohol is also the “intoxicant of choice” for many vets. Those numbers are also double that of the general population.
This makes it especially important that you have access to alcohol-specific treatment programs for veterans. At Asana Recovery, we use a combination of behavioral therapy, counseling, and medication to help you reduce usage – while tackling the underlying causes behind alcohol abuse. This may include prescriptions for disulfiram, naltrexone, or acamprosate. You’ll also receive significant group therapy and individual therapy to help you learn different coping mechanisms, find better outlets, and learn to resist cravings.
Like with alcohol detox, veterans drug detox means treating the problem including addiction, seeking behavior and cravings. It also means treating the underlying problems, such as trauma, inability to readjust, mental health problems, and stress. That can mean drug treatment requires significant personalization to ensure you’re getting the treatment you need built around your specific problems.
At Asana Recovery, our dual diagnosis track approaches addiction treatment by treating problems based on criticality. Therefore, we focus on symptoms that impact your health first. For example, major depression or suicidal ideation, binge drinking, or reckless behavior. Then, we introduce motivational therapy to treat problems interfering with motivation to invest in therapy. Then, we start treating underlying causes of addiction while working to mitigate the problems and symptoms of your mental health disorder.
Veterans are exposed to significant risks, to trauma, to stress, and to difficulty fitting in in their daily lives. That often means that a single 30-day treatment session is not enough to ensure your long-term recovery. Here, factors like your ability to reintegrate into work, a home, or other parts of life are also important. For that reason, Asana Recovery offers ongoing treatment and aftercare to help ensure that you stay clean and sober after treatment. For example:
Reintegrating into life after military service can be intensely difficult, the same can be said of doing so after rehab. That’s why we offer significant and ongoing mental health treatment and addiction treatment for our alumni.
If you or a loved one is struggling with drugs or alcohol, it’s important to get help. Most importantly, that help doesn’t have to wait until you hit rock bottom, become homeless, or are actively out of control. Significant drug and alcohol abuse is one of the biggest indicators of early death in a veteran. For example, 30% of suicide deaths were preceded by binging alcohol and 20% of high-risk behavior deaths by the same. If you’re binge drinking, using illicit substances, or need substances to cope, you’re putting yourself at risk. It’s important to get help.
Asana Recovery is an addiction treatment center specializing in offering care for veterans with substance use problems. This ranges from personalized and custom treatment to medication assisted treatment, intensive behavioral therapy, and long-term aftercare and support. That’s true whether you attend one of our outpatient programs in Orange County or stay at one of our residential facilities.
Asana Recovery offers detox, residential, and outpatient addiction treatment services at our center located in Orange County, California. Please contact us today to speak with one of our experienced addiction treatment team if you have any questions about our programs.