Alcohol and Drug Rehab for Veterans

Researchers believe that the rate of substance use disorders, or SUDS, among veterans, is higher than reports with administrative data provide. According to research using diagnostics instead of administrative data, veterans have a much higher rate of SUDs. Their estimates showed that at least 11% of veterans seeking care for the first time through the VA have a SUD. Due to the high rates of substance use disorders amongst veterans, drug rehab for veterans is vital.

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The Unique Struggles Of Veterans

Veteran badges on their uniformVeterans are people who completed service in any branch of the military and received a discharge that was anything other than dishonorable. The VA has other specific criteria for defining veterans who qualify for benefits. Most veterans served overseas, and many were involved in combat. Watching or experiencing physical trauma is a common reason why veterans develop mental health disorders and SUDs. In addition to trauma from injuries, some veterans experience sexual assault. This is more common among women.

Homelessness is another struggle that veterans are more likely to face. In one survey, 44% of veteran respondents experienced a day or more of homelessness recently. When veterans return from an environment of high-risk combat and trauma, they normally have difficulty returning to normal life. Some even report feeling uncomfortable enough trying to live a normal life again that they prefer being deployed. People who have not served in the military cannot fully understand the feelings they have, their experiences, and their struggles.

When veterans develop mental health issues or SUDs because of their experiences, they may be unable to keep jobs. Losing a job, paying more to feed an addiction and financial mistakes often leave veterans homeless. Although the VA has programs for homeless veterans, many veterans do not seek help.

Why Veterans Often Develop Mental Health Disorders

Whether they experience homelessness or not, many veterans also have frequent nightmares and intrusive thoughts. These often lead to mood disorders. When veterans return from deployment and face the unique struggles of trying to readjust to normal life, they may not seek counseling. They may experience feelings of anger, resentment, and a wide range of other emotions.

Veterans often do not feel like talking about their experiences to the people around them. Family members do not understand, and they may not want to risk feeling judged or receiving well-meaning but unhelpful advice. Although they may feel like talking to the friends they were deployed with, they still may not feel like discussing mental health issues or concerns. As negative emotions worsen, mental health issues can develop and worsen.

Common Mental Health Disorders Among Veterans

Research shows that many people have untreated mental health disorders before they enter the military. As a result, the disorders intensify in severity by the time they return from deployment. Although this is not applicable in all cases, it may be an issue for some. In addition to substance use disorders, several mental health disorders are especially common among veterans. These include depression, anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.


Post-traumatic stress disorder can happen to anyone who witnesses or experiences a traumatic event. Symptoms may include:

  • Nightmares
  • Severe anxiety
  • Hypervigilance
  • Flashbacks
  • Hallucinations
  • Irritability

PTSD symptoms may be worse in certain situations or locations. Traumatic events may include rape, terrorism, war, an accident, or something else. In the past, PTSD in veterans was often called “shell shock.” Today, medical professionals have a better understanding of PTSD, its complexities, and how to treat it effectively. PTSD is one of the most common disorders among veterans that leads to SUD development. Women are twice as likely to develop PTSD, which means that this is especially concerning for female veterans.


Depressive disorder can happen to veterans during training or deployment, and it can even develop years after returning and retiring. These are some common depression symptoms in veterans:

  • Continual sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Perpetual sleepiness or sleep disruptions
  • Weight changes
  • Lack of energy
  • Withdrawal from normal activities

Untreated depression can become severe and may lead to suicidal thoughts or frequent thoughts about death. It is important to seek help as soon as possible after symptoms appear.


People in the military often experience a frequent state of the “fight or flight” response. Even in situations where they train extensively, they may react in different ways. Continually being in a state of high stress can lead to anxiety. Some common symptoms of anxiety may include:

  • Feeling out of breath
  • Restlessness and difficulty concentrating
  • Twitching
  • Clammy hands
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Feeling dizzy or nauseous
  • Sleep disruptions

Professionals teach veterans how to identify their anxiety causes, practice mindfulness or other techniques, and cope with situations that cause anxiety.


One of the most common ideas that people associate with schizophrenia is paranoia. Since veterans who were deployed know what it feels like to know that they are being watched or pursued, it is easy to see how schizophrenia can develop. These are some symptoms of schizophrenia in veterans:

  • The feeling of being watched
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Withdrawing from outside interactions
  • Confusion
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering

Therapists can help veterans identify the reasons why they experience these unpleasant symptoms. They can also teach them strategies to change thought patterns and behavioral reactions.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder differs from some other mood disorders since it is cyclical. It includes cycles of mania or hypermania with cycles of depression. When a person is in a manic state, there may be euphoric feelings, more energy, and racing thoughts. People may spend excessively, be more promiscuous or behave in ways they normally would not behave. During episodes of depression, they experience a crash from the euphoric feelings and suddenly feel sleepier, hopeless, and less sociable. These are some symptoms of bipolar disorder in veterans:

  • Sleep changes
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Withdrawal from social activities

How Veterans Develop Substance Use Disorders

Veteran Covering Face With HandVeterans with substance use disorders are between 65% and 75% more likely to receive diagnoses of mood disorders. As they reintegrate into civilized society and experience the negative effects of mood disorders, they may turn to alcohol or drugs to cope instead of reaching out for help.

They are used to being the heroes and helping others, and asking for help for what they may be struggling with can feel impossible to them. Injuries, surgeries, limb loss, disability, or other physical problems only exacerbate the negative effects of mood disorders. Veterans who develop SUDs often need dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring mental health issues.

Finding Alcohol And Drug Rehab For Veterans In Memphis

If you are a veteran struggling with addiction or have a loved one who needs help, Grace Land Recovery is here for you. We are sensitive to the unique needs of the heroes who serve our country, and we strive to give them the highest level of compassionate care possible.

Our professionals treat the unique needs of each veteran and teach them the most effective strategies for coping with mental health issues and beating addiction.

To learn more about alcohol or drug rehab for veterans in Tennessee, please contact us today.

Common Substances That Veterans Misuse

Many veterans have painful injuries, and doctors may prescribe opioid painkillers for them. The availability of opioids is one of the greatest risks for veterans since it is easy to overdose with lethal effects. In terms of illegal drugs, heroin and cocaine are common among veterans. According to SAMHSA, 10.7% of veterans primarily use heroin, and 6.2% primarily use cocaine.

Alcohol is a common substance for abuse among veterans. Episodic drinking was one of the most common forms of abuse that researchers noted in one study. Although it is more prevalent among men, both male and female veterans have a combined rate of 65% for alcohol misuse.

Why Dual Diagnosis Treatment Is Important For Veterans

Facilities that provide alcohol and drug rehab for veterans use dual diagnosis treatment to ensure that they receive comprehensive care. Dual diagnosis treatment is an approach that includes mental health treatment and substance use disorder treatment at the same time. Although mood disorders often lead veterans to start abusing a substance, some develop a mental health issue after developing a substance addiction.

Not treating the two issues together means that one issue will only get worse. Since the negative effects of mood disorders are often what lead veterans to misuse a substance, not treating a mood disorder increases the risk of relapse. As people fall into a cycle of relapse and recovery, they face a higher risk of overdose. Also, the risk of worsening mental health issues can lead to an increased risk of suicide or harming others.

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Our mission is to help individuals achieve sobriety by getting to the root of their addiction issues. We also aim to treat the minds, bodies, and souls of our patients.

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