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Veteran Drug Rehab in California

Military officer listens to therapist during group therapy meeting at community center in California

Published: June 22, 2023

U.S. veterans face many difficulties, including high rates of substance abuse. The stress and trauma of military life and combat combined with other factors can lead veterans to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Veterans in California who are in need of treatment for a substance use disorder have a number of options. Veterans may be able to use special benefits like TRICARE or VA health benefits to cover the cost of treatment.

Veterans rehab programs might include detox, inpatient, or outpatient care. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), behavioral therapy, and group counseling are also aspects of treatment.

No matter where you are in California, there are treatment options, resources, and support services available to help you seek veterans addiction care.

Drug And Alcohol Addiction In Veterans

Veterans tend to have higher rates of substance abuse than the general population. Trauma, stress, financial hardship, and co-occurring disorders are all factors that contribute to high rates of veteran substance abuse.

The following statistics show the scope of alcohol and drug use among veterans:

  • More than 2 out of every 10 veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also have a substance use disorder.
  • About 1 in 10 returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has a drinking or drug use problem.
  • Veterans with a PTSD diagnosis are twice as likely to smoke than veterans without a PTSD diagnosis.
  • Veterans are more likely to use alcohol and more likely to use alcohol heavily than non-veterans.
  • About 30% of Army suicides involved drug or alcohol use.
  • Veterans make up about 11% of the U.S. homeless population. Around 70% of homeless veterans have a substance use disorder.
  • 65% of military veterans entering substance abuse recovery programs say that alcohol is the drug they abuse most, which is nearly double the rate of the general population.

Scope Of Veterans In California

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are nearly 1,900,000 veterans living in California. About 7% of these veterans are female, while the rest are male.

The unemployment rate for California veterans is 7.4%, which is significantly higher than the national rate of 5.3% for veterans.

Although less than 1/10 of U.S. veterans live in California, more than 1/5 of homeless U.S. veterans live in the state.

There are 101 VA facilities in California, and more than 25% of California veterans use VA health benefits.

Veteran Risk Factors For Substance Abuse

It is not a coincidence that veterans have higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse than the general population.

There are several factors that make alcohol and drug addiction more common for active duty and retired military service members.

Risk factors for substance abuse in veterans include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Mental and physical trauma sustained during service
  • Isolation and trouble reconnecting with family and friends after deployment
  • Homelessness
  • Low employment rates
  • High rates of disability
  • Co-occurring mental disorders and behavioral health issues

Addiction Treatment Programs For Veterans In California

There are a variety of health services available to veterans looking to overcome substance abuse problems.

Whether you are located in Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or elsewhere in the state, treatment options are available.

Programs can take place in either an outpatient treatment or an inpatient residential setting. Detoxification may precede treatment. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may be appropriate for veterans with chemical dependencies.

People looking for treatment plans that are specifically designed for veterans will also find options in California. These programs take into account the unique needs of retired military personnel.

Mental Health & Dual Diagnosis Programs For California Vets

A dual diagnosis, also called co-occurring disorders, occurs when someone is diagnosed with both a substance use disorder and a separate mental health disorder.

People with dual diagnoses have different health care needs. Each disorder can feed into the other, creating a destructive negative feedback loop.

Mental health disorders that co-occur with substance use disorders in veterans include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Panic disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Many treatment centers offer inpatient and outpatient programs that are specifically set up to treat dual diagnoses.

Many of the same elements of treatment will be used, but staff will be trained to understand the unique challenges of co-occurring disorders and how to treat each individual effectively.

Where Can You Find Veterans Rehab Programs In California?

Drug and alcohol rehab programs for veterans are offered at a variety of locations. VA medical centers, major hospitals, and private treatment centers are all places that may offer relapse prevention and treatment services for veterans.

Use the following resources to find veterans’ rehab programs in California:

Qualities To Look For In California Veterans Rehab Programs

If you or a loved one are seeking substance abuse treatment for veterans in California, you will want to know how to find the best treatment centers and programs.

Certain qualities serve as markers of the very best substance abuse treatment programs. In addition, veterans may want to attend a program that is specifically designed for retired military service members.

These signs can point you toward rehab centers that offer quality and trustworthy care:

  • Accreditation through either the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) or the Joint Commission
  • Use of evidence-based treatment practices like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • High staff-to-patient ratios
  • High success rates (low relapse rates)
  • Positive client testimonials
  • Specialized veterans’ programs
  • Certifications and professional memberships

Health Insurance Coverage For California Veterans Drug Rehab

The healthcare system can be hard to navigate. Addiction treatment might be expensive, but there are health insurance options that can help veterans pay for treatment.

Certain benefits are only available to veterans, including TRICARE, TRIWEST, and VA health benefits. These insurance options for veterans might partially or fully pay for the cost of treatment.

Other payment options include in-network private insurance or state-funded insurance like Medicare and Medicaid.


TRICARE health insurance is a subsidized, low-cost option for veterans and active-duty military members.

Depending on a number of factors including your income, finances, and how long you served, your coverage limits, premium, and deductible might vary with TRICARE.

If you have TRICARE insurance, you should check to make sure that rehab programs you are interested in will accept your insurance.

VA Health Benefits

If you have health benefits through the VA, you may be able to pay for a portion or the entirety of your rehab costs with these benefits.

VA benefits vary from veteran to veteran and depend on a number of factors, so always double-check your coverage before starting treatment.

Private Insurance Plans

While a selection of rehab centers in California will accept TRICARE and/or VA benefits, nearly all rehab facilities accept a variety of private insurance plans.

Health insurance plans in California that may be accepted for treatment include:

  • Anthem Blue Cross
  • Blue Shield of California
  • Kaiser Permanente of California
  • Oscar Health Plan
  • Sharp Health Plan
  • Sutter Health Plus
  • Western Health Advantage

Barriers To Addiction Recovery For California Veterans

Veterans might find that there are barriers or obstacles to overcome as they look to get help for addiction.

Waitlists, a lack of financial resources, a lack of programs that support veterans, and stigma around receiving treatment can all stand in the way of veterans finding addiction care.

Fortunately, there are resources available for California veterans in need that can help them to find the treatment and support they need.

Resources For California Veterans

Various programs and organizations in the state of California are in place to help veterans find help with substance abuse, homelessness, mental health concerns, and other common problems.

California veterans can turn to the following resources for assistance:

Find California Veterans Substance Abuse Treatment

If you or a loved one is a military veteran living in California who is seeking treatment for substance abuse, now is the time to act.

Call our helpline today to connect with treatment specialists who can help you find the best inpatient or outpatient rehab center near you.

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