The Prevalence of Substance Abuse in Veterans

Time has shown that members of the military aren’t immune to drug and alcohol abuse. A San Diego drug rehab center is no stranger to treating veterans with drug addiction. Some abuse painkillers because they were injured in combat and needed a way to deal with the pain. Over time, they developed a dependence. Others self-medicate because of mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Deployment and wartime can create a great deal of stress for soldiers.

Those that have been deployed multiple times or have seen combat are at a higher risk of developing problems with alcohol and drugs. According to the Department of Defense, the percentage of military personnel using drugs in 2008 was less than that of civilians at just 2.3 percent. However, more military personnel have seen combat since 2008, and that means it is possible that the percentage has increased along with the rise in drug use among civilians. This can be assumed by the fact that 11 percent of military personnel stated in 2008 that they misused prescription drugs, which was up from just 4 percent in 2005.

Substance Abuse and Suicide


Military suicide rates have also been on the rise since 2004. Sometimes, substance abuse and suicide go hand in hand. In 2010, a report by the Army Suicide Prevention Taskforce revealed that from 2005 to 2009, 29 percent of the active-duty Army suicides involved drugs. By 2009, over 30 percent of the suicides involved prescription drugs. This reveals that mental health issues, most likely related to deployment and combat, have a lot to do with the prevalence of substance abuse in veterans. San Diego drug rehab facilities tend to find that mental health issues are behind a lot of the drug abuse happening today.

PTSD and Substance Use Disorder

Of the many mental health disorders, PTSD is a major culprit behind alcohol and substance use disorder in veterans. Those with PTSD are found to have a higher instance of drug use, alcohol consumption, and smoking. Even if a person doesn’t have these problems before developing PTSD, he or she can develop them after. Here are some interesting facts about PTSD and substance use disorder in veterans:

  • Out of 10 veterans, at least two have PTSD and substance use disorder.
  • Combat veterans with PTSD tend to binge drink.
  • Approximately 30 percent of veterans seeking treatment for substance abuse have PTSD.
  • Smoking doubles in veterans with PTSD.
  • 1 in 10 soldiers that fought in the Afghan and Iraq wars have drug or alcohol issues.

Addressing the Problem

Now that much more is known about drug abuse in veterans, it is important for a San Diego drug rehab facility to address the causes of substance abuse and not just the drug abuse itself. It is also important to make sure the treatment is confidential due to the stigma of drug abuse. Veterans may be afraid to seek treatment because they fear that everyone will know, which means the problem continues to escalate over time. By giving them access to a San Diego drug rehab facility that will take an individualized and confidential approach, veterans can get the help that they need.



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