It’s a common sight in America to see veterans among the homeless population holding signs on the side of the road. It’s no secret that many of them likely struggle with an addiction. This problem isn’t only limited to homeless veterans though. Many veterans who return from war develop a drug or alcohol addiction. This is largely attributed to struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Although it’s difficult to fathom what a veteran has been through when they’ve gone to war, many of these men and women come home without knowing how to properly deal with what they have experienced. For many veterans, numbing themselves from these memories with drugs seem like the easier, softer way.
How Substance Abuse Evolves Into an Addiction for Veterans
For some suffering from addiction, genetic predisposition to the disease played a part. For others, addiction develops over time after months or years of substance abuse. One of the most common risk factors associated with addiction is mental illness. PTSD, anxiety, and depression are some of the most common forms of mental illness. It’s not uncommon for a person to be scared and confused by these emotions. Some turn to drugs because the substances trigger chemical reactions in the brain that brings pleasure and help numb the person from the feelings and emotions they’ve been experiencing.
Eventually, the mind begins to correlate using drugs with specific types of emotions and situations. This is how a dependency begins to develop. In the same way that a person feels the urge to drink water when they’re dehydrated, they experience the craving to use drugs when PTSD or other mental health issues are triggered. Since the mind doesn’t know how to deal with these situations in a healthy way, the person continues the cycle of abusing drugs.
You’re Not Alone
If you’re a veteran struggling with a drug addiction, you’re not alone. It’s common for veterans to return home with symptoms of PTSD. It’s also common for those with PTSD to suffer from a substance use disorder. Recent statistics show that more than 20% of veterans with PTSD also have a problem with substance abuse. About 10% of veterans who went to Iraq or Afghanistan for war returned home with some type of dependence to mind-altering substances.
How do you know if you’re addicted?
Veterans typically self-medicate with drugs to suppress memories from war or deal with insomnia. The avoidance of these issues also causes many veterans to begin isolating. It’s sometimes difficult to know when an addiction has developed. Eventually, when the drugs are not as effective anymore, one suffering from addiction may notice they’re using more in order to deal with their issues. Those with an addiction may find that they continue to use even when they don’t want to or even if they’ve told themselves they wouldn’t. These are tell-tale signs of addiction that should warrant seeking treatment.
In an addiction treatment center, you’ll be surrounded by other people struggling with an addiction. This will help you see that you’re not alone. You’ll be able to build a support group of people who care. Through intensive one-on-one therapy, you’ll begin to learn how to handle your issues with PTSD and other problems without having to use drugs. You can regain control of your life.