Upon returning from active duty, many military service members struggle with their mental health. Most notably, many develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If untreated, PTSD may cause veterans to turn to substance use as a way to manage their symptoms, which can be fatal. To recover from both PTSD and substance use disorder (SUD), members of the military must seek treatment, and the facility must be able to treat both conditions simultaneously.
If you are a military service member struggling to recover from PTSD and SUD, know you are not alone. Many veterans experience the same struggles upon returning home, but help is available. You just have to know where to look. Visit our website to learn more about our treatment options and military recovery program at West Coast Recovery Centers and how you can get help for your PTSD today.
Why Do Military Service Members Develop PTSD?
Time spent as a solder can cause countless people to experience a number of unique challenges. These challenges impact their mental well-being and can cause harm to their families as well. Military service members make a brave choice when deciding to serve their country. Not only is that because of the imminent physical danger of active duty, but the countless consequences to mental and emotional well-being.
Some challenges they may experience include:
- Safety concerns, such as hostile environments and injury
- Time away from loved ones due to long or multiple deployments
- Emotional burdens caused by fear, loss, and hypervigilance
- Potential development of mental health conditions due to trauma
Because of the trauma and distressing events experienced during active duty, many military service members develop PTSD. But what exactly is PTSD? How can you recognize the signs, and how is it connected to SUD?
What Is PTSD?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), PTSD “develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.” People naturally respond to distressing events in different ways. Fear typically enacts a fight-or-flight response, and it is not uncommon for people to struggle with coping after an event. But with PTSD, traumatic symptoms impact their daily life, often hindering their ability to function day-to-day.
PTSD is not only something experienced by military service members. Anyone of any age can develop it. Aside from combat, people develop PTSD after natural disasters, sexual assaults, or domestic violence. We respond to different traumas in unique ways. Despite how these traumas impact us, learning to cope with them is critical to managing them long-term. But before it can be managed, people must recognize the signs within themselves and their loved ones.
Recognizing the Signs of PTSD Among Military Service Members
There are several unique signs and symptoms that can help you recognize PTSD within yourself or a loved one. General signs to be on the lookout for include:
- Experiencing flashbacks and reliving traumatic events
- Having distressing thoughts
- Feelings stressed more than usual
- Avoiding people, places, thoughts, or things related to traumatic events
- Being easily angered, irritated, or on guard
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Engaging in reckless and destructive behavior
- Difficult remembering a traumatic event
- Loss of interest in enjoyable activities or self-isolating
- Experiencing symptoms of other mental health conditions
Specific signs of PTSD in military service members to watch for in loved ones may include:
- Reliving combat events or physically reacting to nightmares and flashbacks from deployment
- Experiencing negative feelings about your service or other veterans in the hopes of forgetting traumatic events
- Trouble obtaining or maintaining employment, especially when initially returning from deployment
- Problems within professional or personal relationships, including fighting more with a spouse or filing for divorce
- Physical symptoms, chronic pain, and the development of mental health conditions, including SUD
How Are PTSD and SUD Connected?
When untreated, PTSD symptoms can worsen and lead many toward harmful behaviors. That includes substance use. Whether veterans lack the proper resources to seek treatment or struggle with stigmas, many may self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. By using substances, they think they can numb the paying off their symptoms. But this ultimately leads to dependency and causes more complex problems.
Thankfully, treatment and resources can help treat PTSD and substance use simultaneously. That includes our military program at West Coast Recovery Centers.
Treating Military Service Members for PTSD
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), one in 10 veterans struggles with SUD. They turn to prescription drugs, alcohol, and other substances, whether they are trying to forget their trauma or numb the pain. Fortunately, West Coast Recovery Centers offers affordable outpatient programs to help military service members address the unique challenges of their PTSD and SUD. Our treatment options and individualized care can help you heal and recover post-deployment.
One in 10 veterans struggles with substance use disorder (SUD), and millions are also trying to simultaneously cope with other mental health conditions. One condition, in particular, that many professionals see within military service members is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD typically develops after someone experiences a traumatic or distressing event, such as returning home from war. Signs and symptoms vary, but if untreated, some will attempt to self-medicate by turning to drugs and alcohol. Self-medicating like this can only lead to more problems and may cause adverse consequences to your mental and physical well-being. Thankfully, our military recovery program at West Coast Recovery Centers can help. Call (760) 492-6509 to learn more or seek treatment today.