There is an estimated 23.4 million Veterans in the United States. With a 52.7 % increase in outpatient Veterans treated for Substance Use Disorder between 1995 and 2016, addiction is a major concern for Veterans and their families. The demanding nature of military life and experience with combat can be made more complex by substance use and mental health issues.
Did you know?
- Between 2004 and 2006, 7.1 of U.S. Veterans met the criteria for Substance Use Disorder (SUD).
- More than 2 of 10 Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) also have SUD.
- Almost 1 out of every 3 Veterans seeking treatment for SUD also have PTSD.
- The Army suicide rate reached an all-time high in 2012.
- Mental and Substance Use Disorders caused more hospitalizations among U.S. troops in 2009 than any other cause.
- About 70% of homeless Veterans also have a Substance Use Disorder.
Veterans with both PTSD and SUD are more likely to have relationships problems, other health problems, and problems keeping a job or adequate housing. Consequently, the combination of PTSD and Substance Use Disorder can be particularly troublesome. According to Jerry Boriskin, PhD, and an expert in addiction and trauma, it is important to treat the addiction first and then begin treating the trauma. Settings that can address both conditions simultaneously are optimal. Boriskin is critical of treating professionals that believe that if the trauma (PTSD) is treated first than everything will get better. It is Boriskin’s belief that the first step is to get the Veteran into recovery since someone who is actively using substances will not be able to adequately address their trauma. Boriskins says, “ There is a definite danger in missing the sequence (of treatment) and diagnosis. Half-measures can result in fatal outcomes for an addict.”