Service members of the United States military will often experience difficulty transitioning to civilian life once discharged. Veterans in combat will have witnessed or experienced several traumatic events, such as sustaining a life-altering injury or watching a friend or colleague die. Veterans can develop PTSD symptoms that include anxiety, panic, and depression; and will often try to manage these symptoms by drinking or taking drugs.
Some studies show an increase in veteran substance abuse due to being prescribed opioids or other drugs to help with pain management or mental health issues. 2 out of 10 veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder will also be diagnosed with substance use disorder (SUD).
Without careful monitoring of drug intake, there is a high risk of developing an addiction. According to a government report, 10.7 percent of veterans admitted to an addiction treatment center were due to heroin abuse and 6 percent because of cocaine. Rather than being adequately weaned off the drug, addicts will turn to illicit drug use when they can no longer get a prescription.
Veterans have a high post-traumatic stress disorder rate, especially those who experienced combat. Shock is a normal reaction to a traumatic event; however, when the nervous system becomes stuck with immobilization. The two automatic reactions of a nervous system during a dangerous or stressful situation are:
In a fight-or-flight response, the body is filled with adrenaline and will have an intense desire to defend itself or hide from danger. Once the threat has passed, the adrenaline will slowly drain away, and the nervous system works on calming the body.
Immobilization is the reaction that is associated with PTSD. Immobilization happens when the nervous system has experienced stress or fear too many times and remains hypervigilant even after the danger has passed. Their nervous system cannot return the body to its normal state and keeps the mind from moving on from the trauma that has passed.
Alcohol and drug use are common for veterans as they tend to have difficulty coping in society after deployment. However, addiction is likely to develop if illicit drugs are used to avoid the remembered trauma or relieve pain. Other underlying mental health issues can worsen PTSD and contribute to a substance use disorder.
Co-occurring disorders develop when drugs or alcohol are used to self-medicate, and a dependence on that substance is formed, or vice versa. Substance use disorders for military service members tend to occur because of their PTSD from active duty.
At HB Treatment Centers, we specifically treat the connection between PTSD & addiction.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) often occurs as a result of a severe sports injury or car accident.
Immediate or delayed symptoms may include confusion, blurry vision, and concentration difficulty. Infants may cry persistently or be irritable. It’s also common in soldiers returning from dangerous overseas deployments.
At HB Treatment Centers, our clinical team is equipped to treat the mental health issues and substance abuse that may be connected to traumatic brain injury.
The most common mental health issues we see in patients who have sustained traumatic brain injury are depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These conditions are often caused or exacerbated by the effects of the traumatic brain injury on the patient’s cognitive functioning. The damage to the brain has an adverse impact on memory and learning processes, which can make it difficult for patients to engage in therapy or follow instructions for medication use.
This is why it’s important for anyone who has sustained a traumatic brain injury to seek treatment as soon as possible after their injury. Even though these conditions may not be immediately apparent after a serious accident, they can impact your ability to heal from your injuries over time if left untreated.
It’s also important for patients who have sustained a traumatic brain injury to understand how alcohol and drugs affect their recovery process. While some people use them as an escape from reality after a traumatic experience, others use these substances because they believe they will help them cope with their symptoms more easily than other options like therapy sessions conducted at home or work productivity training sessions scheduled