As the nation observes another Veterans Day holiday, we extend a much-deserved thank you to the servicemen and women who have literally dedicated their lives to maintaining our security, freedom and the unparalleled quality of life that we enjoy in this country. Recovery Unplugged remains absolutely humbled by the everyday efforts and sacrifices of our active and retired soldiers and simply can’t thank them enough for the dangers and adversities to which they’ve exposed themselves just to make our lives better. The reality is that the recognition that our institutions afford veterans during this holiday should be extended throughout the year to pay appropriate deference to their service.
The War at Home
Recovery Unplugged would also like to underscore another battle that our soldiers continue to fight when they return home: the battle against substance abuse and mental illness. Despite considerable improvements in acute medical care for active military, many returning veterans continue to struggle to find the support they need when struggling with PTSD, substance use disorder and other mental health issues. Data from the Ralph H Johnson Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, at Medical University of South Carolina indicates that 30 percent of completed veterans’ suicides were preceded by alcohol or drug use.
PTSD, Prescriptions and Addiction
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD afflicts: Almost 31 percent of Vietnam veterans. As many as 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans. 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan. About 50-60 percent of PTSD sufferers battle co-occurring substance use disorder. Veterans also battle prescription drug abuse at alarmingly high rates. Physical injuries sustained during active duty often lead to soldiers being prescribed powerful opioids to help them deal. Prolonged use of these drugs often leads to dependency. In addition to opioids, many veterans battle addiction to benzos like Xanax and sleeping pills.
Addressing Addiction among Veterans
As we continue to pay lip-service, to the struggles veterans face on a daily basis, we must meet these sentiments with action and ensure that we protect those who protect us. This means more accessible and affordable access to quality treatment services, long-term follow-up resources and more specialized programs that address the unique factors that lead to substance abuse in vets. Recovery Unplugged wants to thank all of our military for their profound and selfless sacrifice and encourage all struggling with addiction or mental illness to get the help they need.