How Addiction Plays a Part
Drug abuse and drug prevalence in the armed forces and among veterans is an unfortunate fact. These men and women are under constant stress, often far from home, with limited access to emotional support from friends and family. Being an Orange County rehab and detox, we often consider how we can be of more service to our veterans in our community. Veterans have higher rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), addiction, and suicide than the typical citizens they protect. We feel it’s critical to understand why, and how we can help.
Veterans and PTSD
Veterans who were deployed in active duty are constantly under stress. They are in foreign environments, going through rigorous physical exertion, with few comforts and constant threats. Seeing friends, coworkers, and civilians injured, maimed, or killed is a reality many have to face, and it can take an enormous toll on mental wellbeing. Worse yet, soldiers who tested for PTSD were 4 times as likely to foster suicidal ideation. Among those, soldiers who had another comorbid disorder, like addiction, were exponentially more likely to have suicidal ideations. Overcoming PTSD and addiction takes a lot of time, patience, and resilience, but it is possible and can be made easier with a structured detox and rehab program.
Addiction in the Armed Forces
A 1971 report found that between 10-15% of soldiers were using “high-grade heroin”. It was one of the first times in US history that we realized how the environment of our soldiers can immediately influence addiction rates. A 2010 study in the UK found a heavy correlation between deployment to Iraq and alcohol misuse among its soldiers, as well as a connection between deployment and PTSD, most prevalent among those in combat. Since Vietnam, veterans in hostile combat situations are more likely to show signs of PTSD and addiction, and therefore deserve more active screening and support for both disorders.
Suicide Among Addicted Veterans
A study of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) patients found that patients with addiction to any variety of substances, including alcohol, cocaine, and meth, had higher rates of suicide risk. Stimulants like cocaine had a 1.35 hazard ratio, signifying above-average risk, while depressants like cannabis had a 3.89 risk assessment and other sedatives were at a 4.74 risk factor. Women were at a far greater risk of suicide with the use of sedatives (11.36 risk factor). When accounting for all other factors, women in the armed forces only experienced a higher suicide risk than men with a Substance Use Disorder (SDU). The report concluded that both diseases show a strong correlation, especially among women, and that veterans with SDUs should be analyzed for suicide risk, and vice versa.
Veterans stake their lives serving our nation, and our OC detox and rehab services are dedicated to providing them with the quality care that they deserve. The numbers show that veterans, especially those who have endured combat and SDU’s are at greatest risk for suicide and suicidal ideations. If you, or someone you know and love, is suffering from addiction, or suicidal thoughts, we urge you to call us immediately at (714) 782-3973, so we can best walk you through your options. No matter how you feel right now, you are entitled to joy, hope, and a healthy, sober life. Begin your recovery journey today.