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The VA & Substance Abuse Programs: What You Need to Know

For many veterans coping with the stress of their duty means turning to alcohol or other substances. When addiction takes hold of their life, it feels like they can be letting their job and their family down. Remember, addiction is a disease that strikes many people from all walks of life.

When a vet is ready to break their substance use disorder, the good news is that they do not have to be alone in the journey. The VA offers numerous programs and treatment options for vets to get sober. Many of the programs are free or low-cost so those that served can get the help they need.

No vet should suffer from their addiction and there are numerous ways the VA tries to help people get on the road to recovery.

The Stats Of Veterans And Substance Abuse

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, about 7% of vets struggle with illegal drug abuse. That is higher than 5.3% of the general population. The survey also found that 80% of vets struggle with alcohol abuse.

Roughly 7% percent deal with both drug and alcohol abuse.

Finally, about 10% of veterans between 18 and 25 misuse prescription pain relievers, compared to just 5.5% of the general population, the center found.

So if you are a vet facing substance abuse, don’t worry, you are not alone!

Getting Help At The VA

The VA and its hospitals offer numerous options for vets to get help for their substance abuse. Not all programs are available at every hospital, so its best to check with your local facility to see what is available.

The VA offers several treatment options to help vets struggling with addiction. One is cognitive behavioral therapy, which is where vets learn how to manage the urge to drink or use drugs and use a problem-solving approach to deal with substance abuse. Another treatment option is motivational interviewing, where vets strengthen personal motivation changes. The final is Motivational Enhancement Therapy, where providers and vets look at the potential benefits of change.

Health staff at the VA might provide some common medications to help with drug or alcohol addiction, such as methadone, naltrexone and nicotine.

Taking The Next Step

Many of the VA programs are free or limited cost to veterans. The exact cost depends on the person’s type of insurance, the treatment needed and a host of other factors.

Some of the programs, including in-patient rehabs, are held right at the hospital. There are also centers that focus on getting vets treatment. Some places offer outpatient treatment where a vet can get care and return home at the end of the day. That is best for veterans with family or work commitments who still want to start the road to recovery.

For someone wanting to break the hold of substance abuse, they can contact their local VA to learn about treatment programs available. You can also contact our caring staff at Holland Pathways to learn about treatment options for substance abuse among vets.