Veterans are one of the most vulnerable demographics when it comes to problems like drug or alcohol addiction. The kind of trauma they face makes them more prone to using dangerous coping mechanisms that only lead to more issues. Thankfully, there are ways to help them. Many types of programs, medications, and therapy are available to address addiction in veterans.
Turning Point of Tampa is a trusted addiction treatment center that offers quality programs and solutions to individuals and families. As part of our mission to educate people about drug abuse and the type of help available, we’ve shared a comprehensive guide to addiction treatment for veterans. Keep reading to learn more about this topic.
Why Are Veterans More Vulnerable to Substance or Drug Abuse?
Being part of the military is not just about prestige and the privilege to fight for the country. It’s a dangerous career option, especially when it comes to active combat. Active duty service members can get injured, see their friends die during a battle, or have a hard time adjusting to civilian life after being deployed for years.
All the factors above make veterans vulnerable to substance abuse. Trauma can be debilitating, with many veterans suffering from mental health issues along the way. To cope with all of it, they may resort to using alcohol and drugs. In fact, more than 10% of veterans have been admitted to a medical detox and addiction treatment centers for substance abuse disorders.
Treatment Options and Waiting Lists
Understanding treatment options is important for addressing military service members and military families. Veterans diagnosed with a substance use disorder are often facing addiction. Turning Point of Tamps wants to discuss information about a substance use disorder first to give context about the available treatment options for drug and alcohol addiction treatment for veterans.
Trying to find drug and alcohol treatment options for male or female veterans in Tampa or really anywhere in Florida many times requires patience due to long wait lists.
Turning Point of Tampa is able to assess quickly help someone needing services know if our services will be helpful and schedule admission with urgency if needed.
Veteran Treatment Programs for Alcohol and Drug Addiction
There are many types of addiction treatment for veterans who are experiencing any type of substance abuse disorder. These have been designed to be holistic, addressing all the factors that lead to an individual misusing drugs and alcohol. Overall, these treatments belong under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Alcohol and Drug Dependence Rehabilitation Program.
This program provides social, medical, vocational, and rehabilitation therapies to active service members and retired veterans. Many homeless veterans utilize Veterans Affairs for the services they provide and also emotional support.
In addition to substance abuse, Veterans Affairs can help address mental health conditions that are related to drug and alcohol addiction, including PTSD and depression. Only your local VA medical center or clinic can offer these types of treatments.
Utilizing Veteran Benefits at Turning Point of Tampa
Turning Point of Tampa is a facility that can offer medical detox and residential addiction treatment to veterans who are active duty in all branches of military service, discharged veterans, or are retired veterans.
Levels of Care Offered at Turning Point of Tampa
Our center follows a 12-step philosophy that is emphasized in our levels of care. These steps are a continuum that addresses every aspect of substance abuse disorders and comorbidities.
Drug and Alcohol Medical Detox
The first level is drug and alcohol detox. For this step, veteran patients will receive in-patient, medically supervised detox for all the substances in their bodies: prescription drugs, controlled substances, alcohol, etc. You’ll stay inside “The Village,” a campus supervised by our medical and clinical staff. You’ll be facing withdrawal symptoms during this stage, so we want to ensure that you’re in a safe environment during the hardest parts of addiction treatment.
For this level of care, you’ll be staying inside our facility, where you’ll have access to around-the-clock treatment and support. In our addiction treatment program, helping clients manage cravings, and participate in daily groups helps someone learn to participate in daily tasks sober. Within our residential treatment program each person follows an individualized treatment plan put together with their therapist and counselor. The length of stay will depend on your needs, wants, and insurance provider requirements.
Once a person graduates from residential treatment, they can enroll in the day treatment program. This combines the intensiveness of the residential treatment program with the flexibility of outpatient treatment.
Intensive Outpatient Program
In direct contrast to the day treatment program, this program is done during the evening. The intensive outpatient program is meant for those who have to work, allowing them to receive care while still preserving their employment. Clients can join both group and individual therapy sessions to manage their addiction and continue their recovery journey.
Our last level of care is the aftercare program. This is meant for clients who’ve successfully finished their assigned treatment. Through this, they can stay connected to our facility and get mutual support as they navigate their new sober life.
Turning Point of Tampa has been helping Veterans and non veterans since 1987. Our alumni is active and committed to helping others and the community.
Factors That May Cause Substance Use Disorders
A substance abuse disorder doesn’t appear out of thin air, especially in veterans. Here are some factors that contribute to drug and alcohol addiction.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Most forms of substance abuse disorder can come with a mental health issue. Either can be the cause of the other, so they are considered comorbidities. These two distinct issues may be present in a single person at the same time, which means that treatment programs should address them simultaneously.
Dual diagnosis is a common enough thing in the country. Around 8.5 million people in the U.S. have some form of substance use disorder along with a mental health condition. These include depression, PTSD and other anxiety disorders, bipolar 1 and 2, and dysthymia.
Treating these comorbid conditions requires a holistic and targeted program tailored to each individual. The healing process can include a mix of psychotherapy, medications, and group support.
Mental Health Issues
Substance abuse is often correlated with mental health issues. Either one can be a result of the other. However, the trauma experienced by military veterans results in mental health issues, which may then escalate into substance abuse as a coping mechanism. Here are some of the common ones.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common issues faced by veterans. While the percentage carries from each service area, around 10% of veterans have been diagnosed with the issue. Those who’ve been in the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) are at a higher percentage.
The most common reason is combat and the trauma it causes. Being exposed to hazardous conditions, seeing fellow soldiers suffer, getting injured, and other traumatizing scenarios can all cause veterans to develop PTSD. This anxiety disorder can be debilitating, so those who have it turn to drug and alcohol abuse as an escape.
Developing depression is another one of the most common mental health disorders among military veterans. This can occur because of substance abuse, or it can cause substance abuse to develop.
Similar to PTSD, depression and its subtypes can start because of the trauma that someone suffered during their service. This leads to symptoms like lack of emotion or extreme sadness, loss of interest in life, and suicidal thoughts. Alcohol or drug abuse becomes a coping mechanism for this mental health issue.
Traumatic Brain Injury
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) involves physical trauma to the head. From 2001 to 2022 alone, more than 450,000 service members have been diagnosed with a TBI. Having a TBI can result in other mental and physical issues, such as memory loss, nerve damage, chronic pain, mood swings, and anxiety disorders. These can result in a bad quality of life, which can then escalate into substance abuse.
Military Sexual Trauma
Unfortunately, sexual trauma and sexual abuse are not uncommon in the military. Nearly one in four service women have experienced sexual assault at various stages of their deployment. Men also experience this too, but it’s often underreported, leading to skewed statistics. Experiencing military sexual trauma also results in mental health concerns like PTSD, depression, and substance abuse disorders.
Treatments for Chronic Pain
Losing limbs, getting hit with bullets, and many other types of physical injuries need strong pain medication to treat. Opioid medications are often used for these situations, and these are highly addictive drugs. Without proper medical guidance or supervision, veterans are at higher risk of abusing opioid prescriptions for chronic pain.
Adjustment to Civilian Life
Returning to normal life after living in a high-stress environment or warzone is a huge adjustment for veterans. They can feel disoriented, isolated, and unable to share their experiences with loved ones. Because of these, they may develop unhealthy coping mechanisms like drug and alcohol abuse.
Family Members With History of Addiction
There is still research being done on this factor. However, the studies suggest that having family members with a history of addiction makes veterans more likely to develop substance use disorder, regardless of combat exposure.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most well-known treatments used for various mental health problems, including drug and alcohol addiction. According to the American Psychological Association or APA, CBT can help improve brain function and quality of life more than most other types of therapy or psychiatric medication.
For this type of substance abuse treatment, there is a lot of thinking and talking involved. It’s all about identifying a person’s harmful thought patterns and changing them. This allows people with psychological problems to develop better coping methods. With these healthier habits, they can make a more impactful change in their lives.
CBT puts emphasis on the individual being their own therapist. They will be the ones facing their own fears and understanding how these became a problem, all with the guidance of a therapist.
Today, many subtypes of CBT exist to address unique circumstances or needs. One of these is reality therapy, which we offer at Turning Point of Tampa. This type of treatment moves away from discussions of traumatic past events. Instead, the focus is on the present and how current behaviors and thought patterns can affect relationships and other aspects of their current life.
As the name implies, group therapy involves a set of patients with similar mental health issues coming together to talk about their experiences and situations. A psychologist will be there to facilitate the discussion and guide each participant. Group therapy is one of the most effective treatment programs for issues like depression, alcohol and drug addiction, and PTSD.
The idea of discussing your issues with strangers may feel intimidating at first, but many people who’ve participated in group therapy found the experience extremely rewarding. In most cases, you’d be added to a group with similar experiences. You’ll get to talk with fellow veterans who understand what you’ve been through and empathize with your feelings.
Group therapy also has benefits that you might not experience from individual therapy. For example, individuals can better improve their social skills, overcome shyness, and improve their self-esteem in this type of treatment program. Being a part of a group also allows participants to see problems from another perspective and learn new ways to address them.
Interacting with horses is a surprisingly therapeutic experience, and that’s why equine therapy exists. This type of therapy traces its roots to ancient times, but it only became a formal method in the 1960s. Today it’s one of the more popular solutions for drug and alcohol abuse. In equine therapy, individuals work with horses to:
- Achieve some mental relief
- Enhance confidence and assertiveness
- Develop boundaries
- Eliminate unwanted or negative emotions
- Feel connected and needed
- Be in control
This all stems from the fact that individuals have to learn skills and build trust with a creature that doesn’t communicate verbally. For many who have multiple treatment episodes, equine therapy is helpful for intensive relapse prevention.
Veterans Affairs is Not the Answer for All
Rehab for veterans encompasses addiction treatment programs for substance use disorder, PTSD, depression, and other mental health issues. This includes inpatient, outpatient, and residential programs aimed at stopping the use of drugs, managing withdrawal symptoms, and helping start the healing process.
Veterans Affairs is usually the first choice for a Vet, sometimes knowing about additional options like Turning Point of Tampa is preferred. The important aspect is for treatment providers work together to address the individual needs of patients. This can include diagnosing co-occurring disorders, assigning a drug or alcohol addiction treatment program, providing prescription medications, and advising on aftercare procedures.
Turning Point of Tampa offers a proven and comprehensive addiction treatment for veterans. We’re one of the region’s most trusted addiction treatment centers that care for veterans and their family. We follow a systematic approach to eliminate the struggles these people might face because of their background and experience with trauma.
Contact Turning Point of Tampa Today
Military service involves a lot of dangers that cause trauma. It’s not surprising that many veterans develop mental health disorders and other issues that result in substance dependence or abuse. Turning Point of Tampa offers substance abuse treatment in Tampa FLorida.
If you or a loved one is in need of medical detox or addiction treatment, or if you’d like to learn more about our programs, contact us today! We offer confidential and free consultations for your peace of mind.