Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances among veterans. Ease of access, combined with the unique stressors of military life, lead many active duty service members to start drinking to cope. This habit can lead to dependence and addiction that can carry over into a veteran’s civilian life — with serious consequences. Luckily, Sunrise Veterans Health offers alcohol rehab services specifically for those who have served our country.
Alcoholism and Veterans
Over the last few decades, the issues of alcoholism among our veterans have become increasingly worse. Many veterans drink as a way to cope with the trauma they experienced while serving, or as a way to try and cope with the symptoms of untreated mental health disorders. The fact is, however, that drinking does not make these issues better – and can actually make them worse over time.
Alcoholism and PTSD
The mental, emotional, and physical effects of military service can leave their marks on a person for a lifetime. These effects can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a severe mental health condition that can have a negative impact on many parts of a person’s life. The effects can also lead to alcoholism, as veterans turn to anything that can help them cope with their symptoms. Common signs of PTSD include:
- Flashbacks or nightmares that make you relive traumatic events
- Feelings of guilt, shame, or worthlessness
- Self-destructive behaviors
Why Veterans Turn to Alcohol
Military service members often experience situations that the average person does not. From deployment to isolation to military sexual trauma, these experiences can trigger the onset of certain mental health disorders. As a way to cope with these situations, many veterans end up using alcohol to mask the symptoms of their trauma or other mental health symptoms.
When someone has a mental health condition, like PTSD, as well as an addiction to alcohol, this is called a dual diagnosis. Having a dual diagnosis makes a veteran more likely to commit suicide, which is why it is so important to seek help when you need it. Many treatment centers treat both addictions to alcohol and mental illness together.
The Physical and Emotional Impact of Alcoholism on Veterans
Frequent use of alcohol can have an enormous impact on a person. Dependence on alcohol can change the way that the brain works, making an individual crave alcohol in order simply to feel normal. When a person drinks alcohol, it reduces the chemicals in their brain that naturally help them feel happy and relaxed, and which helps them deal with stress. Alcoholism can also cause other physical effects, ranging from high blood pressure to heart attack to permanent liver damage.
Veterans with PTSD or other mental health symptoms will find that they will only become more depressed or anxious as their alcoholism worsens. This is what typically leads veterans to have thoughts of self-harm or suicide. With an estimated 20 veterans committing suicide in the U.S. every day, this is a very serious concern that should be addressed with appropriate addiction treatment.
Signs of Alcoholism in Veterans
For many veterans, it can be difficult to identify that they have a problem with alcohol. Drinking is often a big part of socializing with fellow service members while in the military, which makes veterans perceive this behavior as not just normal, but as an essential part of socializing and relaxing. At a certain point, drinking can become a major issue. Experiencing one or more of the following symptoms means a person likely suffers from alcoholism and need rehab:
- Spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from drinking
- Having a strong, undeniable urge to drink
- Having problems in family life, personal relationships, or work performance due to drinking
- Giving up things a person used to enjoy in order to drink instead
- Drinking to try and make things like depression or anxiety go away
- Having to drink more and more in order to feel the effects of the alcohol
- Trying to drink less or stop drinking but being unable to do so
- Having withdrawal symptoms, like shaking, sweating, nausea, or vomiting, when going too long without a drink
Rehab Options for Alcohol Addiction in Veterans
Thankfully, no matter how long you have been abusing alcohol or how severe your addiction is, there are effective rehab options available for veterans. Alcoholism in veterans can be more complex due to underlying mental health conditions, which is why it is best to choose a treatment facility that specializes in the care of veterans. At Sunrise Veterans, we are proud to offer a full range of treatment options to support our men and women who have served. Our options include:
- Residential Rehab
- Aftercare Planning
- EMDR Therapy
- Holistic Therapy
- 12-Step Immersion
Alcohol Addiction Rehab for Veterans
If you are a veteran struggling with alcoholism, we can help you recover. Our veteran-centric treatment plans help to address both your alcoholism and your underlying mental health conditions, like PTSD. By treating both of these conditions, we are able to help you to achieve more complete and meaningful sobriety.
Choosing a treatment facility for your alcoholism is just the first step on what may be a long road to total recovery. Sunrise Veterans will be there to support you every step of the way with effective, scientifically-backed treatment options. Contact us today to learn more about our programs, or call to speak with a staff member on how we can help you to take back control of your life.