Inpatient addiction treatment programs for veterans

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Addiction treatment programs for veterans

Drug rehab for veterans

Often the result of PTSD, substance use disorders have become increasingly common in veterans. Many of them abuse prescription medication, street drugs, alcohol, or nicotine. Addiction treatment centers provide inpatient drug rehab programs designed especially for veterans, taking into account the type of addiction, life-threatening consequences, and the risk of relapse. The care offered is always tailored to the patient and not the other way around. Patients are helped to overcome the difficult withdrawal and heal from the abuse, addressing the root cause of their addiction as well. Last, but not least, they learn healthy coping strategies to prevent future relapses.

Why is addiction so common in veterans?

The military personnel often go through stressful experiences, different from the ones the general public might deal with. The constant exposure to stressors increases the risk of substance abuse disorders. Many veterans abuse alcohol and prescription drugs, such as opioids. These disorders are more common in those who have dealt with trauma, frequently as the result of combat exposure.

Upon returning from military deployment, many veterans are re-living the combat experiences. They are facing many challenges as they try to adjust to civilian life, finding it impossible to cope with past traumas. Some of them have witnessed severe injuries, death of other personnel, or sexual assault. Regardless of the deployment type or location, the rates of post-traumatic stress disorders are high for veterans. Both army and marine corps personnel have been diagnosed with addiction, their issues being related to the traumas experienced while in military service.

Substance use disorders are diagnosed in those who have a physical disability as well, often combined with mental health problems. Opioids are prescribed for chronic pain and various injuries, and veterans end up abusing these. The stigma associated with mental health issues prevents veterans from seeking help; to cope with the symptoms, they often turn to prescription medication, street drugs, alcohol, or nicotine.

Substance abuse inpatient treatment programs for veterans

While in rehab, veterans receive the necessary support to overcome withdrawal. To make the cravings less intense, the specialists working within the respective center employ a balanced combination of medication and therapy. The medically-managed detox has a number of advantages, starting with the fact that it allows patients to stop or reduce the use of substances in a safely manner. Patients learn to address not only their addiction, but also its root causes, such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety.

Drug substitution therapies are also used, and some facilities rely on new drugs, such as methadone and buprenorphine to make cravings less intense. This is especially true for those who are battling an addiction to opiates. Nicotine replacement might be used for those addicted to tobacco. Patients benefit from counseling and additional therapy options, either as a group or individually. They have access to twelve-step programs, self-help groups, and educational activities. Some centers provide special programs, such as for homeless, returning combat, or women veterans.

A drug rehab program is always designed to meet specific goals. When it comes to veterans, one of the main goals regards negative behaviors and the willingness to change. The specialists working within the respective center work hard to increase one's motivation for recovery. They are teaching patients the necessary skills to deal with potential triggers and thus prevent relapses. Moreover, they educate them on addiction and its ripple effect, including in terms of family. Last, but not least, veterans receive access to support groups, where they can share experiences and gain a sense of community.

What kind of addictions can be treated?

Common addictions that can be treated within such facilities include the ones to prescription medication, alcohol, nicotine, or street drugs. It often happens that one abuses alcohol and drugs, or nicotine and prescription medication. The abuse of more than one stimulant/substance complicates the recovery process, but with the right help, the patient in question can achieve long-term sobriety.

Street drugs are highly addictive, the recovery process being long and complicated. The risk of relapse is also significant. Among the most abused drugs, there are: methamphetamines, methadone, methaqualone, heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, crack, ecstasy, and LSD. Prescription medication is abused as well, especially by veterans who have physical disabilities, associated with chronic pain. The most abused medication includes opioids and other painkillers, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and fentanyl.

As previously mentioned, drug rehab programs address not only the addiction but also its root causes. Most veterans develop an addiction upon returning to civilian life, attempting to cope with past trauma but also the challenges of being out of service. Street drugs are taken to deafen the stress, depression, and anxiety. Unfortunately, the plateau is soon reached, which means one will have to consume higher quantities to feel the same effect. The same goes for prescription medication; as one develops tolerance, he/she will begin to take more.

Regardless of the type of addiction or its effects, all patients benefit from recovery support. Among other things, they are helped to understand potential triggers and how they should handle them. The drug rehab programs for veterans might also focus on educating the patient on the consequences of addiction. If these disorders are not treated, serious health consequences can occur, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological issues, hormonal imbalances, kidney/liver damage, and even cancer. The risks of premature death and overdoses must also be considered. The sooner one opts for a rehab program, the higher the chance of a positive outcome (complete abstinence).

How does the substance abuse treatment program work?

Prospective patients are invited to visit different addiction treatment centers and choose one that speaks to their needs the most. They can set up appointments with the admissions team and discuss their situation in detail. Once they decide on a particular facility, they can check into rehab and start their recovery journey.

As mentioned above, the first step is to overcome withdrawal. During this period, patients are helped to reduce or stop using the substance they are addicted to. The intense cravings are managed with the help of medication and therapy. Once they manage to go through this difficult period, they enter the recovery phase. They benefit from counseling and therapy, discovering the best ways to cope with their triggers. During this period, they are also working on the root causes of their addiction. Relapse prevention is another major goal of recovery, with patients learning valuable skills that can be transferred into real life.

What are the advantages of addiction treatment programs for veterans?

The best inpatient drug rehab programs are the ones that are adapted to the patients, in this case, veterans. Addiction treatment centers provide comprehensive treatment options for veterans, facilitating the transition into life as a civilian. Most importantly, they are helping their patients understand that there is no need for them to lean on various stimulants. In many facilities, fellow veterans have contributed to the development of the drug rehab programs. Thus, they offer the common ground advantage, knowing the ins and outs of life as military personnel.

Each patient is assigned a primary therapist, who will coordinate a multidisciplinary team. All the specialists in the team have both the practical experience and knowledge to care for the patient, understanding the unique environment to which one has been exposed to. Moreover, as many of them are veterans themselves, they can relate to the experiences lived. They can teach patients to learn with them, which is a significant advantage to consider.

A good part of the drug rehab program regards the associated mental health issues. If these remain unaddressed, it is highly likely one will return to old habits and never escape addiction. Therapy can help patients address anxiety and depression, and the numerous manifestations of post-traumatic stress disorders. Patients are introduced to coping skills, so they are able to deal with life stressors. They receive training on how to handle potential relapse triggers, and even benefit from family therapy. Counseling is available for families, allowing them to repair the damaged relationship.

Length of recovery

The duration of the drug rehab program is one of the major issues discussed in the initial meeting. Most addiction treatment centers have both short- and long-term programs to offer, taking into consideration the specific needs and challenges of veterans. In recommending a program of a particular length, they will consider past trauma, experiences in the combat zones, symptoms associated with withdrawal, the type of addiction, abuse history, and relapse risk.

The short-term programs vary between three and six weeks, but they cannot extend over three months. Most veterans are not able to give up drugs altogether in such a period of time, but they can use the program to get an idea of what recovery entails. Many see the program as a period of respite from their problems.

In some cases, and only if the patient can withstand it, the short-term programs can be used for intense recoveries. It can also happen that patients transition from short to long-term programs, especially if they failed to achieve their recovery objectives. As for the long-term programs, these usually vary between three months and one or two years. They cannot be shorter than three months and are reserved for those with severe addictions.

Questions to ask when selecting an inpatient addiction treatment center for veterans

To gain an idea of what drug rehab for veterans entails, you might consider visiting different centers. Most facilities allow you to take a tour of the premises and you can ask questions. The staff is prepared to answer these in detail.

Here are some of the most important questions you might consider asking:

Dual diagnosis treatment for veterans

As many veterans are dealing with both addiction and mental health issues, many addiction treatment centers offer dual diagnosis rehab programs. Thus, veterans are able to work on their addiction and PTSD at the same time, showing great improvement. Moreover, they benefit from 24/7 supervision and support, so they always have someone to talk to.

All patients have access to cognitive behavioral therapy. While in therapy, they are able to understand the relationship between their thoughts and behaviors. Moreover, they are discovering the best coping strategies for stress management. Cognitive processing therapy has been very helpful, helping patients reframe negative thoughts and address past trauma. In addition, prolonged exposure might be used to address negative thoughts. Veterans are "asked" to talk about the traumatic events they've seen, with emphasis on their own feelings.

The dual diagnosis rehab programs include both individual and group therapy sessions. In some cases, family or couples therapy might be available as well. Dedicated therapists work with each patient to facilitate the transition to real life. The challenges of civilian life are explored in depth and real-life situations are practiced, allowing patients to feel more comfortable about the future. Once the residential stay ends, patients have the necessary tools and skills to deal with everyday living, without turning to drugs or other stimulants. Their mental health is in a good state as well, with both anxiety and depression having been effectively addressed.

Find inpatient addiction treatment centers for veterans in your state:

If a veteran you love battles addiction, the best time to act is now. You can help by scheduling appointments with various addiction treatment centers, and even accompanying your loved one to visit the respective facilities. It might be a good idea to prepare a list of questions ahead, so you can ask the staff for clarifications about the care provided. Remind your loved one that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Rehab programs can help them quit drugs or other stimulants, reducing the risk of relapse, and helping them adjust to life as civilians.