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Veterans and Drug Abuse

a veteran in a wheelchair empties out a pill bottle into their hand to show veterans and drug abuse

Service in the military presents unique challenges for service members and their families. The nature of the jobs they perform, especially those who serve in combat zones, makes them more likely than the general public to develop substance use disorders (SUD) and mental health disorders. Access to treatment is vital to veterans and their families.

Many veterans struggle to cope with trauma experienced in active duty. Upon returning home, they may feel disconnected from their civilian family and friends who cannot fully relate to their experiences. A veterans program in Cohasset, MA, provides specialized treatment to address the unique needs of this population among peers with shared experiences.

If you are an active-duty service member or veteran struggling with trauma, addiction, or both, Evoke Wellness at Cohasset can help. Contact us online or call 866.931.6429 to receive the help you deserve.

Understanding the Connection Between Trauma and Addiction

Trauma is a physical, emotional, or psychological reaction to a distressing experience. When left untreated, trauma can contribute to mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

There is a strong link between trauma and addiction because of the tendency to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs to temporarily relieve psychological distress and other trauma symptoms. Trauma can be caused by sudden, unexpected events or continual exposure to harmful situations. Traumatic events can include:

  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Serious accidents or life-threatening illnesses
  • Being the victim of a crime or physical or sexual assault
  • Domestic violence, either as a victim or observer
  • Living through or witnessing natural disasters
  • Witnessing or experiencing violence
  • Living in or participating in a combat zone or war

Traumatic events trigger our natural fight-or-flight instinct. For most, the brain processes trauma relatively quickly, and people can move on. Still, sometimes, the brain gets “stuck,” leading to neurobiological changes in its reward and stress systems, making people more vulnerable to developing addiction.

Factors that Contribute to Drug Abuse Among Veterans

Veterans can be at increased risk for drug abuse and substance use disorders (SUD) for various reasons. While not everyone experiences the same issues, common factors that contribute to drug abuse among veterans include the following:

  • Combat experience – Exposure to combat increases the risk of developing mental health issues like PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Some veterans turn to drugs or alcohol to alleviate symptoms.
  • Prescription medications – Many veterans receive prescription medications to manage pain from sustained injuries or mental health disorders and may misuse or become dependent upon these drugs.
  • Accessibility to drugs – It is often easier for veterans to access prescription opioids or benzos, which can increase the risk for misuse or abuse.
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders – Having traumatic brain injuries (TBI), PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues increases the risk for drug abuse and addiction.
  • Transition to civilian life – The stresses associated with transitioning from military to civilian life are often cited as reasons for substance abuse.
  • Social networks – Inclusion in social groups where drug or alcohol use is encouraged or normalized increases the likelihood of substance abuse.
  • Lack of access to services – Particularly in rural areas, veterans may experience barriers to treatment, including long wait times or limited access to specialized care.

Military training heavily reinforces the belief that service members must be physically and mentally strong and fearless in facing challenges. The stigma of being perceived as weak causes many veterans to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs to cope with their issues rather than seek help.

Our Veterans Program

Features of our veterans program include:

  • Individualized care
  • Family counseling and support
  • Life skills training and education
  • A structured and supportive environment
  • Supervised outings, meetings, and speaker events
  • Trauma therapy
  • Relapse prevention therapy
  • Aftercare planning

At Evoke Wellness at Cohasset, we understand the depth of the struggle, and we’re here to provide the compassion, respect, and effective treatment every veteran needs to forge their path to a healthier, addiction-free life.

Get Help at Evoke Wellness at Cohasset’ Veterans Program

At Evoke Wellness at Cohasset, we believe that veterans deserve the highest-quality treatment available. Our veterans program provides integrated, comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment in a supportive setting where veterans can connect with peers who can relate to their experiences and challenges.

If you or a loved one is a veteran struggling with drug abuse, addiction, trauma, or other mental health issues, help is available. Call 866.931.6429 to learn more.