Military personnel often endure great stress and hardship in the name of protecting the country and all it represents. Sadly, this stress can often lead to alcohol abuse and even addiction. While the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the use of illicit drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine are less common in active-duty military members when compared to civilians, the abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs is still widespread, and this problem seems to be intensifying each year. Military rehab centers are designed to help people like this, allowing them to go on to lead fulfilling, productive lives free of substance abuse.
Why is Military Rehab Important?
Addictions begin with substance use and abuse, and there are a number of reasons why people in the military might choose to use these substances, including:
- The stress of battle. The horrors of warfare and the memories of war can impact the psyche of an individual. Many soldiers will try to “quiet the demons” and mask the pain they feel with the use of alcohol or drugs.
- The stress of life before battle. A career in the military can have unique stresses of its own, just like any job. The pressure to perform, to withstand specific physical and mental stresses, and to always be ready for active duty can take a toll. Further, just like civilians, past traumas and stressors can play a role in the likelihood to try substances.
- Separation from loved ones. Time away from friends and family during long tours of duty can take an emotional toll on even the strongest individuals. In order to cope with the emotional pain, many individuals may self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.
- Post-career disappointment. When a solider returns home after a long tour of duty and attempts to restart civilian life, seemingly insurmountable obstacles may stand in the way of success, including a lack of skills demanded by the job market or an inability to reconnect with loved ones.
- Boredom. When a solider is out in the field or in training, there are often long stretches of waiting in between brief spurts of activity. Many will fill this time with alcohol use or drug use.
While substance use and subsequent addiction might be understandable, the toll these behaviors can take can be staggering. For example, according to the Partnership at Drugfree.org, a study of returning service members found that 39 percent had probable cases of alcohol abuse, and a separate study found that suicide rates among military personnel rose between 2005 and 2007. It’s possible these two statistics are connected, as substance abuse can make people feel more depressed and very impulsive. A depressed person who feels no need to reign in a destructive impulse might very well feel as though suicide is a good option.
People with addictions can also feel isolated from their families and colleagues, and they may be unable to process the traumatic experiences that took place during their service. They may feel as though they’re just haunted, and the only relief they get is temporary. This isn’t the kind of life anyone would wish on someone who has dedicated their life to the country.
Military personnel might desperately need help, but they might also be unwilling to ask for help. For example, Scott Air Force Base reports that more than 60 percent of those who are currently in the military believe that getting help for a mental health issue would impact career choices within the military organization. This is a statistic mental health providers are trying to change through outreach programs and public awareness programs, but each time a person in the military gets help, that person also makes a powerful statement about the good a targeted program can do. In essence, these people work as emissaries, describing the value of treatment. By setting a good example, they may encourage others to get care.
In some cases, individuals seek greater privacy for treatment by going to rehab programs that are not affiliated with the military. There is an increasing amount of public-sector programs that offer targeted support for those who have experienced military life and stressors. These programs can be very effective and may be covered by insurance.
Treatment Centers that Serve Military Members
People who want help might go through the Department of Veterans Affairs. This organization provides a variety of treatment programs that can help, and administrators even offer a program locator tool online, making the search process quick and easy. Using a program like this might be attractive to some soldiers, as they’ll get addiction care in the company of other people who have served. They might not feel the need to explain their service or the terminology they used while they were in active duty, and they might not feel the need to whitewash some of the events that took place. For some, this is an ideal place in which to receive care.
Not everyone who has an addiction is best served in a VA facility, however. Private facilities might also provide real help to returning service members, providing them with support and understanding as they work to rebuild their lives and move forward in a healthful manner.
Michael’s House greatly respects the sacrifices that the brave men and women of the military make every day, and the physical and emotional toll it can place on them and their families. With that in mind, Michael’s House is well-equipped to help veterans with their recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, providing comfort and care in Palm Springs, California. Contact Michael’s House today for more information.