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The Unique Challenges of Veterans in Recovery

Veterans in Recovery

The unique mental health struggles that veterans face in everyday civilian life can be chalked up to a variety of factors. Finding gainful employment, reestablishing relationships with family and friends, and overcoming the guilt or regret that may have resulted from service are just a few.

Making matters worse, a tradition of discipline and self-reliance among veterans can hinder them from seeking much-needed mental health treatment. As a result, they may turn to the abuse of alcohol and other addictive substances to ease their pain.

The challenge of addiction treatment for veterans in Colorado comes down to this: to properly treat the addiction, the co-occurring mental health disorder must be treated at the same time. However, many veterans fear that when divulging their feelings, they will be misunderstood by medical professionals who lack military experience.

The compassionate, experienced medical staff of Northpoint Colorado are committed to enabling the growth and healing of those struggling with addiction and any possible co-occurring mental health disorders. We tailor each client’s treatment plan to meet the unique needs of people in recovery. This includes veterans in recovery.

Trauma and PTSD

Broadly defined, trauma is any sort of distressing event that results in emotional, physical, or psychological harm, especially if left untreated. Some emotions typical to trauma include shock, denial, or even selective amnesia.

Common traumatic experiences include physical or emotional abuse, physical assault or injury, sexual assault, the death of a loved one, surviving a natural disaster, or witnessing a violent crime or accident.  Long-term symptoms of trauma include flashbacks to the traumatic event, wild mood swings, sleep disruption, or nausea. 

More intense than trauma is the chronic, debilitating mental health disorder known as PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Studies suggest PTSD is more common among veterans than civilians, regardless of whether these veterans served on the field of battle. The last two decades have seen a spike in the number of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans seeking treatment for PTSD. This rasies questions about the treatment options available to them.

Other studies suggest a high prevalence of sexual assault within the U.S. military. And, as mentioned before, sexual assault can easily lead to the development of PTSD.

Alcohol Abuse Among Veterans

Over the last couple of decades, alcoholism among veterans has grown increasingly prevalent. With a military culture that all but encourages binge drinking, many veterans turn to alcohol to cope with symptoms of their untreated mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, and trauma. Nowhere is this dynamic made more grimly clear than the title of the 2011 documentary, Beer Is Cheaper than Therapy

However, alcohol tends to make the symptoms of such mental health disorders worse over time. Meanwhile, new problems arise, including possible financial troubles, trouble with the law, DUI, and poor physical health.

Substance Abuse Among Veterans

In recent years, the opioid epidemic has ravaged the U.S. population. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), opioid-related overdose deaths rose from just 21,000 in 2010 to nearly 48,000 in 2017. In 2021, opioid-related overdose deaths reached well over 80,000. 

The opioid epidemic has hit veterans hard. NIDA studies suggest more than one in 10 veterans receiving care at a VA facility have a substance use disorder. In some cases, they are addicted to more than one substance. 

Much of this can be attributed to the stress of military life. For those who experienced a traumatic event, the likelihood of developing a substance use disorder increases.

What to Expect of Our Treatment for Veterans

Like its other locations in Washington, Nebraska, and Idaho, Northpoint Colorado offers veteran-specific care. This includes our partnership with TRICARE, the healthcare program for uniformed service members, retirees, and their dependents.

We offer detox, featuring prescription medications designed to lessen the intensity of withdrawal symptoms if necessary. Our inpatient treatment facility offers live-in treatment with therapy sessions, recovery meetings, and group support. 

What follows is our outpatient treatment offerings, including a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) and Outpatient (OP) programs, which continue providing treatment for veterans in active recovery while enabling them to fulfill their work, school, or familial duties.

If You’re a Veteran Who Needs Help, Contact Us Today

Looking to become a veteran in recovery, or know one who needs help? Northpoint Colorado can help. We’re committed to providing you with both the short- and long-term benefits of comprehensive treatment. Get started today by calling us at 970.762.2353. You can also seek more information by completing our online form.