There are approximately 21.8 million military veterans in the United States. It is estimated that 22 veterans commit suicide in America every day. This number has jumped up from 20 per day in 2014.
This isn’t the only troubling statistic about veterans in the U.S. Did you know that 1 in 3 veterans is currently seeking treatment for either Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Substance Use Disorder (SUD)?
A recent report from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs reveals that many veterans attempt to cope with their PTSD by using substances such as alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. The report also reveals people struggling with PTSD are at a greater risk of developing an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol.
Over time, substance abuse can turn into a full-blown addiction to drugs and alcohol and may develop into a disorder.
How does PTSD contribute to SUD?
PTSD is a serious medical condition that touches millions of Americans. Here is how it specifically affects U.S. veterans.
- PTSD may cause sleep problems, including sleeplessness and nighttime waking. Many military veterans self-medicate with drugs or alcohol assuming that it will help. Oftentimes, it contributes to the development of addiction and SUD.
- It may cause feelings of irritability, numbness or even depression. These feelings are worsened by the use of drugs and alcohol, which often leads to a cycle of long-term addition.
- PTSD usually includes avoidance of bad memories, dreams or feelings associated with dangerous/traumatic places and events. This can make PTSD last longer, and may be the reason many veterans turn to drugs and alcohol. However, this type of behavior will increase the risk of developing SUD.
- It can also feel consuming. Many veterans take drugs and alcohol to distract their minds from the problems they feel for a short time. However, this usually only makes it harder to be productive or enjoy regular activities of civilian life.
If you are a veteran suffering from PTSD yourself or know someone who is, please take advantage of our resources. The first step in addressing PTSD related SUD is talking with a qualified health professional.
Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?
One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.
But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.