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Substance Abuse and PTSD

veteran with addiction

PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is a condition that follows many veterans well after their military service. Exposure to danger, loss, or any number of contributors to trauma leaves a lasting psychological effect. Unfortunately, the trauma alone is often not the end of the story because substance abuse and PTSD have a high degree of correlation. Those returning from active duty are at an increased risk of having experienced some traumatic event and, in turn, more likely to abuse substances to manage the ensuing stress.

At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we understand the emotional and psychological state many veterans find themselves in. We can help evaluate their PTSD at the root rather than allowing addiction to fill the gaps. We approach addiction treatment holistically and personally. Call us today at 727.513.5972 to ask about our veterans addiction treatment program.

Veterans and Addiction: What are the Causes?

There are several reasons why veterans are more prone to form an addiction than those with no time in the military. Addicts cite any number of things as the main cause of their substance abuse, but all of them boil down to some dissatisfaction with a part of their lives.

  • Mental health can take a plunge during military service due to the nature of the field. Addiction may have sprouted from direct combat exposure, the loss of a friend, or from coming to grips with regrets or decisions.
  • Social ostracization is one of the most common feelings veterans have. In some cases, their living situation may have changed upon return. An extended period of disconnection from the life they lived before is rattling at best and devastating at worst. Loneliness is a common cause of substance abuse.
  • In-service addiction is common. Veterans commonly report using drugs or alcohol while deployed to manage stress following trauma. In these cases, addictive habits may predate a PTSD diagnosis.

An important distinction here is that PTSD and trauma are not the same. PTSD is characterized as the persistence of typical trauma symptoms, such as numbness, guilt, and fear—as well as new ones like flashbacks and triggers. In cases where people have a history of drug use before their PTSD diagnosis, they are much more likely to relapse or increase substance abuse as a form of self-medication.

Substance Abuse Can’t Treat PTSD

Severe enough trauma can alter the way one interacts with the world forever. The expectation of returning to civilian life after a traumatic event can feel oppressively heavy to the point that drugs or alcohol seem like a temporary means of escape. The truth, however, is that substance abuse is a non-sterile band-aid. It may cover the problem or mute the pain but comes at a severe cost.

Instead, rehabilitation is the safer and more effective solution for veterans with PTSD. Rehab can help teach lasting skills and break habits that previously contributed to addiction. Treatment for one problem doesn’t work without treatment for the other—each client who struggles with substance abuse and PTSD should have neither left unaddressed.

Veterans Are Valued at Footprints Beachside Recovery

At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we offer various treatment options and will help you choose which combination will be most effective for you. Here’s a list of the different types of therapy we employ:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Trauma-informed therapy
  • Experiential therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy

Footprints Beachside Recovery is a tightly-focused, small-scale approach to rehab. Our team is uniquely and personally familiar with the kind of struggle addicts endure, and some of us are familiar with what it’s like to recover as a veteran. Contact us now at 727.513.5972 and learn about how we handle substance abuse and PTSD differently.