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Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event increases the risk of substance use disorder (SUD). Many veterans have unaddressed trauma affecting their quality of life and mental health. Active duty personnel and retired veterans may struggle with internalized stigmas surrounding treatment for mental health or substance abuse. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “[H]alf of military personnel have reported that they believe seeking help for mental health issues would negatively affect their military career.” In addition, “Service members can face dishonorable discharge and even criminal prosecution for a positive drug test.” West Coast Recovery Centers helps veterans heal and overcome barriers to treatment. 

Addiction Treatment Programs Help Veterans Heal

Treatment programs provide veterans with a structured and controlled space where they address underlying trauma or other core issues related to their mental health and addictive behaviors. Many veterans with SUD have multiple co-occurring mental health disorders requiring simultaneous or consecutive treatment. West Coast Recovery Centers uses evidence-based and alternative holistic therapies to help veterans identify and address the root cause of their addiction. 

The Connection Between Trauma and SUD

Multiple risk factors contribute to the development of SUD and addictive behaviors. However, trauma is one of the most common causes of maladaptive coping techniques, including substance abuse. Many veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Furthermore, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “More than 2 of 10 Veterans with PTSD also have SUD,” and nearly “1 out of every 3 Veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD.” West Coast Recovery Centers offers trauma-informed care and personalized treatment programs to help veterans heal from SUD and co-occurring mental health issues, including PTSD.

4 Ways West Coast Recovery Centers Supports Veterans in Recovery

Veterans may find it challenging to transition from military service to civilian life. According to the previously mentioned article by NIDA, “Once active duty personnel leave the military some protective influences are gone, and substance use and other mental health issues become of greater concern.” In some cases, chronic pain and mental health issues impact a person’s ability to function. Individuals may turn to substance abuse as a form of self-medication to reduce emotional or physical distress. Treatment programs at West Coast Recovery Centers support veterans by providing resources and tools for addressing these issues during rehabilitation and continuing care. Below are four ways clinicians help veterans recover from dual diagnosis. 

#1. Alternative Holistic Therapy Helps Veterans Heal

Complementary and alternative holistic therapies provide people with additional support during recovery from substance abuse. Holistic therapies are often used alongside psychotherapy and other evidence-based therapeutic modalities to help clients manage symptoms related to substance abuse. 

Some of the most common alternative therapies veterans may benefit from include: 

  • Yoga or other low-stress activities 
  • Meditation 
  • Mindfulness-based techniques
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Artistic therapies 

Music and art therapy provide clients with a safe space to express themselves without feeling pressured to censor or edit their self-expression for the sake of others. The ability to externally express internal experiences may reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety for veterans with PTSD and SUD.

#2. Prescription Medication Helps Veterans Heal

The symptoms and side effects of SUD and co-occurring trauma-related disorders may require a combination of psychotherapy and prescription medications. Clients benefit from using prescription medications to stabilize their emotional responses and manage symptoms of PTSD or other disorders while in treatment for SUD. After completing rehabilitation, the client focuses on addressing the symptoms being managed by prescription medication. 

#3. The Importance of Peer Support in Veteran Recovery

Peer support is an integral part of treatment and healing for many people with SUD. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “For many, including military veterans and their families, support between individuals with shared lived experiences, or peer support, has long been utilized as a way to support each other through many different challenges.” 

West Coast Recovery Centers encourages clients to engage with peers by doing the following: 

  • Becoming active in the local recovery community
  • Engaging in group therapy and various support groups  
  • Developing mentor-mentee relationships
  • Taking part in community activities and events

The care team provides clients with the skill development and resources to connect with peers more meaningfully. 

#4. Individual Therapy Helps Veterans Heal

Veterans often have multiple traumas impacting their mental health. Studies have shown that “[t]he most widely publicized mental health challenges veterans and service members encounter are posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression . . . Although these mental health concerns are prominently highlighted, it is crucial to acknowledge that other issues, such as suicide, traumatic brain injury (TBI), substance use disorder (SUD), and interpersonal violence, can be equally detrimental in this population.” Individual and group therapy provides veterans with the tools to address issues related to co-occurring conditions. Therapists guide clients through identifying and processing underlying mental health issues impacting their recovery from substance abuse. 

Veterans may experience or witness traumatic events. Few veterans receive appropriate mental health treatment to address the effects of lingering trauma. Some individuals may turn to substance abuse or other maladaptive coping techniques to manage physical or emotional distress. Clinicians treat veterans with substance use disorder by addressing the root cause of addictive behaviors, including chronic pain, emotional distress, or trauma. West Coast Recovery Centers uses psychotherapy and other evidence-based treatments alongside alternative holistic therapies to help veterans heal from the effects of SUD and co-occurring mental health disorders. The care team uses a trauma-informed approach to reduce the risk of re-traumatization. To learn more about our programs and services, call us today at (760) 492-6509.