Substance Abuse Treatment for Veterans


Substance Abuse Can Put A Strain On A Veteran’s Life

silhouetteIn order to soothe the physical pain of an injury or the emotional pain of trauma, veterans may start using substances, such as alcohol or prescription medications, which can quickly turn into abuse. Self-medicating with alcohol, prescriptions or other drugs may help veterans numb themselves to their pain for a while, but as their addictions get stronger, it’s likely they will see in an increase in sadness, anxiety, fear and irritability. Veterans may use substances to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night because of traumatic memories or racing thoughts that keep them awake. Each day, veterans may grapple with the decision of whether or not to start drinking or using again. If they can hold off their cravings for part of the day, an overwhelming emotion, painful memory or distressing flashback may cause them to use again..

Veterans may choose to distance themselves from their family and friends in order to avoid talking about their addictions or emotions. Addiction can quickly drive a wedge between him or her and loved ones, causing heated arguments, tension and dissolution of trust. A veteran’s drug abuse and/or alcoholism may have even ended their relationships with their loved ones. If a veteran has been addicted to drugs or alcohol for some time, he or she may have completely given up on going to work. It’s possible that a veteran’s addiction may lead to legal trouble, the loss of one’s job and disqualification from VA benefits. After the loss of their jobs and the deterioration of their relationships, veterans may resort to living on the street, forgoing housing costs to pay for alcohol or substances. Veterans with addictions may desperately want to seek help and start to reassemble their lives but feel confused as to where to turn for treatment and assistance.


Many Veterans Struggle With Alcoholism And Substance Abuse

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2008, 11 percent of service members reported misusing prescription pain medication – more than two times higher than the civilian rate. In addition, about 47 percent of service members reported binge drinking in the previous year and 20 percent reported binge drinking every week. Many contributing factors may have lead to an increase in substance abuse and alcoholism among military members and veterans. Because military personnel are exposed to much more violence and physical challenges compared to civilians, they may suffer more physical injuries, resulting in receiving prescriptions for pain. The psychological trauma of being in the military may also drive a service member or veteran to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to block out their past experiences. If a veteran is affected with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the combined physical pain and overwhelming past memories may lead him or her to drink excessively or use drugs as a last resort for relief.

No matter the cause of their conditions – nor how severe their addictions are – veterans always have hope to recover and move forward in an empowered life with the guidance of substance abuse treatment sessions.


Find Relief And Healing Through Substance Abuse Treatment

Veterans will have the opportunity to explore what drives them to use and make the necessary life changes to get sober and start to live a rewarding life. Our network of experienced service providers will work with veterans one-on-one to tailor a unique plan that best suits each individual’s unique needs and interests.

A major first step in helping veterans break their addictions is to foster a safe and positive space for their recovery. Since many veterans who struggle with substance use are also homeless, the Bodhi Battalion is committed to finding veterans a secure place to live while they go through treatment.

When treating veterans with addictions, we also aim to look at the whole individual. That is, we will identify whether Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a TBI or relationship problems may be contributing to his or her dependence on drugs and/or alcohol. Veterans will have the chance to identify the triggers to their addictions and determine whether they are linked to trauma they experienced while in the military or other stress factors related to transitioning back into civilian life.

Treatment sessions will focus on teaching veterans positive ways to cope when they are faced with cravings or impulses to use. If we determine that a veteran’s drug use may be connected to past trauma, his or her PTSD treatment counselor will work with the veteran to clear the emotions associated with his or her traumatic experience. As the veteran finds relief from the pain of the past, he or she can feel free to move forward in treatment without the burden of worry and racing thoughts associated with trauma. We may also incorporate breathing and muscle relaxing exercises, so veterans can learn how to calmly approach future challenges when they arise.

In addition to helping veterans find safe housing, our well-rounded substance abuse treatment program can help them navigate legal proceedings, obtain furniture as well as other household goods and find steady jobs. Veterans may also benefit from our peer mentoring program, community events or our group meetings to connect with fellow former service members who share similar experiences.

The Bodhi Battalion recognizes the impact that substance abuse has on maintaining stable housing. Through our multifaceted treatment approach, veterans can find the support, guidance and tools to live a healthy, connected and meaningful life.


Common concerns about substance abuse treatment for veterans


If my family member attends treatment, will he/she need to move out?

Many times, spouses and children of veterans who struggle with addictions worry that treatment will break their family apart. While some veterans may need to live in a sober living home during treatment, the long-term benefits to your family can be profound. Your veteran’s substance use or drinking has probably already interfered with his or her ability to be a compassionate parent and partner. When working through substance abuse treatment, your veteran family member will finally get the chance to clear all of the negative thoughts and emotions tied to his or her addiction and move forward with a greater ability to thoughtfully connect with you and the rest of your family.


I’ve been able to manage my addiction so far. I don’t think I need help

If you have struggled with substance abuse in the past or rely on substances to get through each day currently, you will probably face obstacles in the future. Even if you believe you have a handle on how much you use or drink, many of us deny that we have a problem until we find ourselves hitting a new low – doing or saying something we deeply regret. The further an addiction progresses, the more likely you are to have trouble finding sobriety on your own. With the Bodhi Battalion on your side, you’ll have access to a number of helpful resources within our organization and throughout the community that can set the stage for you to find freedom from addiction and live a joyful life.


I’ve tried treatment before. It didn’t work.

Our substance abuse treatment for veterans is very different from other treatment programs. We understand that many life factors may be contributing to your use of drugs and/or alcohol and subsequently your ability to maintaining housing and income. This cycle fosters frustration and continued substance use. By working with you to create a stable environment, a healthy social life and the confidence you deserve, you can recover from addiction and look forward to a bright future.


Move Past Addictions Toward A Rewarding Life

If you are interested in learning more about substance abuse treatment for veterans, please contact us. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about the treatment process, as well as other ways we can help you or your veteran get necessary assistance.

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