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Veteran Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centers

Veterans In The United States

Published: June 28, 2023

Substance abuse is common among both veterans and active duty military service members, which is why it is also common to find addiction treatment programs designed specifically for individuals from these groups.

Specialized addiction treatment programs for veterans provide safe places for them to recover around others with shared experiences, as well as staff members who are specially trained to address their physical and mental challenges.

About Substance Abuse & Addiction In Veterans

Veterans face a great deal of trauma and stress during their time of service, the extent of which can vary depending on their type of deployment and whether they experience war.

Sadly, exposure to such traumatic events can lead many veterans to self-medicate through alcohol and drug use or turn to alcohol or drug use in order to cope.

Over time, and with continued abuse, drug and alcohol use can lead to dependency and drug addiction (substance use disorder or SUD), and veterans may find many aspects of their lives affected in negative ways.

Scope Of Veterans In The United States

According to the most recent U.S. Census, there are currently around 19 million veterans in the United States, making up around 6-7% of the adult population over the age of 18.

Between 9-10% of veterans are female, and the average age of a veteran in the U.S. is 58 years old.

Further, it is estimated that around 25% of veterans are living with at least one form of mental health disorder or mental illness, which are contributing risk factors for SUD.

Risk Factors For Drug & Alcohol Abuse In Veterans

It is estimated that 1 in every 10 veterans will develop a substance use disorder at some point in their lives, a number that puts them at a disproportionate risk to the general population.

There are many possible reasons for this, as veterans also tend to experience certain trauma or mental health disorders at a disproportionate risk as well.

Risk factors for drug and alcohol abuse in veterans include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Chronic pain
  • Mental health disorders
  • Social isolation
  • Easy access to substances
  • Prior history of substance abuse
  • Lack of support
  • Stress from day-to-day life
  • Unemployment or homelessness

Addiction Treatment Programs & Services For Veterans

No matter what types of treatment services veterans are looking for, there are drug and alcohol rehab centers all over the United States offering programs to accommodate them.

Veterans Rehab Programs

While it is never required that a veteran attend a rehab program that is specialized for veterans, many of them may feel most comfortable doing so.

This is largely due to the fact that group and peer support plays such a large role in addiction treatment, and many people heal most comfortably around others who are similar to them or have shared experiences.

The staff in these types of programs are often either veterans themselves, or have special training in how to work with veterans.

Detox & MAT

Both inpatient and outpatient rehab programs for substance abuse often include both medical detox and medication-assisted treatment (MAT). These treatments utilize FDA-approved medications to help people wean off substances safely and comfortably.

Detoxification is almost always the start of an addiction rehab program, with the goal of attaining sobriety before the person begins therapy and other types of treatment.

MAT, on the other hand, is more of an ongoing addiction treatment tool, as it is typically combined with therapy and performed in more of a long-term setting to help people in recovery maintain sobriety and avoid uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

The types of medications used during detox and MAT depend entirely on the substances that the person is addicted to, with both detox and MAT being used most commonly with alcohol use disorders and opioid use disorders.

Outpatient Programs

Residential treatment is not always possible or preferable in all situations. Many veterans are more comfortable with outpatient treatment that allows them to attend to their families or professions as usual.

Outpatient treatment comes in multiple levels of care:

  • Regular outpatient treatment, which meets less than 9 hours per week
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOP), which meet between 9 and 19 hours per week
  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHP), which meet for 20 hours or more per week

Sober Living & Aftercare

It is very important that veterans are able to continue their recovery journey in a safe and comfortable environment, even after their addiction treatment program has ended.

Transitional homes provide such environments, by creating safe spaces for those recently finished with treatment to live around others who share the common goal of continued sobriety.

These homes are an integral part of relapse prevention support for many veterans, and can make all the difference when it comes to long-term recovery.

Mental Health Issues & Substance Abuse In Veterans

Equally as common in veterans as substance use disorders are mental health disorders and behavioral health disorders.

This is why you often see mental health treatment offered alongside substance abuse treatment. In addition, one disorder can aggravate or affect the symptoms of the other, so dual diagnosis care is crucial to recovery success.

Mental health and behavioral health issues that commonly co-occur with substance abuse include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Panic disorder
  • PTSD
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Mental health issues and substance abuse can be treated in a few different ways, one of which is through dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders.

Dual diagnosis treatment uses both individual and group therapy, as well as behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

Additionally, mental health disorders that co-occur with substance abuse are also often treated with prescription medications, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications.

How To Find Veterans Rehab Programs

Veterans rehab programs can be found at a variety of locations, including VA hospitals and VA medical centers throughout the United States and in most major cities.

Resources to help veterans find rehab programs include:

You can also check for resources locally by speaking with any medical professional that you trust and asking about programs for veterans.

If you or your loved one is already set up with treatment services through your local VA center, you can check through your treatment provider there as well for a referral.

Qualities To Look For In Veterans Rehab Facilities

Just as no two veterans rehab facilities are the same, not all veterans rehab programs are created equal. It is incredibly important to find a program that is of high quality for the veteran in your life.

Qualities to look for in veterans rehab programs include:

  • Positive reviews and testimonials
  • National accreditation
  • Designation as a non-profit organization
  • Low staff-to-client ratio
  • Awards and accolades
  • Certifications and memberships
  • Evidence-based treatments

It may be in your best interest to visit a rehab center in person before deciding to attend addiction treatment there.

Paying For Addiction Treatment For Veterans

Financial barriers are potentially one of the largest barriers that veterans face when seeking addiction treatment, but this does not have to be the case, as addiction treatment is often more affordable than people realize.

Private Health Insurance

Private insurance can be obtained either through a private insurer or through a person’s employer, and can cover a variety of mental health services depending on the provider and individual plan.

In addition to private insurance, veterans can also use TRICARE, which is a form of military insurance open to both veterans and active duty service members.

TRICARE is similar to Medicaid and Medicare in that they are all state-funded and offer similar coverage and benefits.

VA Benefits

Many veterans have access to health care and disability benefits directly through the VA, though the amount of VA health care that each veteran qualifies for will vary with each individual.

Veterans will also need to meet certain eligibility requirements in order to use these benefits, such as serving for a minimum amount of time.

Financial Assistance

There are numerous types of financial assistance that veterans can utilize when seeking addiction treatment.

For example, some rehab centers offer payment plans that allow attendees to pay over time at a monthly rate that is agreed upon in advance.

Other rehab centers may charge fees based on a sliding fee scale, which means they charge based on people’s income levels and what they can afford to pay.

What Barriers Do Veterans Face In Addiction Recovery?

It is never easy for anyone to seek addiction recovery treatment, but challenges to accessing recovery can be even greater for military veterans, who may face additional challenges that the general population may not understand.

Potential barriers that veterans face in addiction recovery include:

  • Stigma surrounding addiction
  • Lack of awareness of available resources
    Limited access to nearby treatment facilities
  • Financial barriers
  • Trust issues with healthcare providers
  • Co-occurring mental illness
  • Limited social support network
  • Legal or employment issues
  • Challenges with transitioning to civilian life
  • Reluctance to admit they have a problem

Some of these barriers are easier to overcome than others, but many of them are addressed in rehab programs that are specific to veterans.

Recovery Resources For Veterans

There are many resources available to veterans on a national level that offer support 24 hours a day during times of crisis and need.

Resources for veterans in recovery include:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — a vital resource for people living with substance abuse or mental health issues, this site offers a helpline and a comprehensive treatment center locator.
  • Veterans Crisis Line — a 24/7 free and private hotline for veterans or their family members who are experiencing any sort of crisis or distress and need confidential support or guidance.
  • National Resource Directory — a database of resources for veterans that includes resources on health, housing, employment, and legal issues.
  • Lifeline for Vets — a non-governmental service to veterans that quickly connects them to a variety of important resources, such as applying for VA benefits and support services for female vets.

Find Veterans Substance Abuse Treatment Near You

Despite the barriers that many veterans face when considering treatment for themselves, there is help widely available to assist these individuals with the unique challenges they encounter.

Contact us today if you need help locating a recovery center nearby for either yourself or a loved one who is a United States veteran or current military personnel.

It is never too late to start your new life free from addiction, and you deserve to be healthy and happy after years of serving your country.

For more detailed information on veterans substance abuse treatment in your area, browse the list below.

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