Substance Abuse & Addiction in the Military
November 3, 2015

Substance Abuse & Addiction in the Military

Members of the armed forces and military contractors who serve in war zones or natural disaster areas witness incredibly traumatic circumstances.The job-related stress faced by these first responders can be immense and even lead to serious mental conditions like anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder (PSTD).

Because there is so much trauma and stress to combat routinely for long periods of time, many service men and women and military contractors have turned to alcohol or drugs to find emotional relief; yet this remedy can lead to substance abuse and profoundly deep addictions. Addiction in the military is a serious concern, but there are ways you can help.

Traumatic Events

Members of the military and related personnel are often subjected to intensely traumatic experiences. These may involve life and death risks as well as the death of comrades or even innocent non-combatants. In spite of training and their logical understanding of the horrors of battle and war, many still experience the trauma on an emotional level that can be so intense that it induces mental disturbances like anxiety and depression.

In many cases, the trauma from these events can lead to PSTD. To numb the pain of these conditions, many vets turn to alcohol or drugs, which can lead to a pattern of abuse and addiction.

Intense Emotion

For many veterans and military support personnel, the trauma of battle doesn’t typically end after the event is over. People may experience the trauma over and over again in their thoughts and nightmares. Some may feel guilty about an outcome that was out of their control.

Others may feel a sense of outrage that compounds the shock of the trauma. Dealing with anger can be volatile. Some military vets have been known to lash out in anger or turn increasingly to drugs and alcohol in order to dull their more volatile emotions. It is when military personnel use drugs or alcohol to relieve stress that addiction is more likely of occurring.

Hyper-Vigilance and Perpetual Angst

Military crews and contractors must always be vigilant when performing service in high-risk areas. Working in dangerous conditions can lead to chronic stress and high levels of anxiety. Coping with perpetual angst is difficult, so it isn’t surprising that many people returning home have a difficult time reentering their old lives. Turning to drugs or alcohol may seem helpful at first, but it almost certainly leads down the dark path toward addiction.

The Importance of Rehab and Treatment

There are many addiction programs that are especially designed for military veterans and other first responders who have witnessed traumatic events or suffered as a result of their high-stress job. Vets may be used to serving on behalf of others and their countries, but heroes must also take care of themselves.

Entering treatment is a brave thing to do. It may take time, but addiction can be as deadly as the situations that a military veteran has already faced in their day-to-day work. In treatment, vets can begin their road to recovery and genuine healing. They will not only learn to manage their powerful addiction; they will also learn to cope better with the trauma and stress that plagued them.

If you are a military vet or contractor, it’s essential to seek treatment if you abuse drugs or alcohol or know you have an addiction to these substances. Treatment is the best option you have to safeguard your physical and mental well-being.

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