While on active duty, many veterans face intense stressors quite often. They can experience traumatic events, have difficulties adjusting to military life, or have other issues they are unsure how to handle. Sadly, this can result in them turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism. Unfortunately, relying on alcohol as a stress reliever can lead to addiction and eventual alcohol treatment for veterans.
Why Do Veterans Develop Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol is the only legal substance that the U.S. Armed Forces allows. The use of illegal drugs is highly prohibited and results in a dishonorable discharge. Most active duty personnel do not want to be dishonorably discharged as it means they will not be able to receive any veterans benefits. Since alcohol is allowed, it is a common practice to drink after a stressful day. Binge drinking can also be an issue in the military with younger military personnel who may not get to drink as often.
The continued use of alcohol results in the body developing a tolerance to it. Over time, larger amounts must be consumed to experience the stress-relieving effects. Eventually, this can lead to addiction. Furthermore, once someone leaves the military, their drinking habits follow them. As they return to civilian life, they can experience other stressors, such as financial problems, relationship issues, finding a job, and so on. As a result, they continue drinking to try to alleviate the new stressors.
In addition, when someone has PTSD, depression, anxiety, or another mental health disorder, that condition can worsen from continued drinking. As addiction takes hold and mental health problems continue to deteriorate, it can lead to thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
Alcohol Treatment for Veterans Issues
While alcohol use disorder in veterans is a treatable condition, not all veterans will seek treatment for various reasons, such as:
- They may think they have their drinking under control.
- They do not view drinking to alleviate stress as an addiction.
- They may not be ready to admit they have a problem.
- They may not want to admit they need help as it can make them look weak.
- They could be homeless and not have any family support.
Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder in Veterans
The signs of alcohol use disorder (AUD) in veterans include the following:
- Binge-drinking large amounts of alcohol whenever possible.
- The inability to stop drinking once they start.
- Attempting to hide drinking from family and friends.
- Keeping a secret stash of alcohol.
- Becoming aggressive, violent, or angry when drinking.
- Engaging in risk-taking behaviors.
- Losing all interest in activities, hobbies, and things they used to enjoy.
- Drinking as an excuse to deal with difficulties transitioning to civilian life.
- Developing relationship, financial, and legal problems.
Alcohol Treatment for Veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs and TRICARE provides coverage for alcohol treatment for veterans. TRICARE is the federal government’s health care plan for active duty military and veterans.
Veterans do not have to seek treatment at a VA facility. Instead, TRICARE allows them to seek treatment at private addiction treatment centers. TRICARE coverage covers the cost of detox, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), inpatient residential, PHP, and IOP treatment programs.
In addition, if the veteran is suicidal, their treatment is free with no out-of-pocket expenses or co-pays. This new mental health coverage just took effect on January 17, 2023, as part of the Veterans COMPACT Act of 2020. All veterans, whether or not they are TRICARE enrollees, qualify for this benefit. All they have to do is enroll in a treatment program and let the facility know they are suicidal.
Benefits of Alcohol Treatment for Veterans at a Private Facility
Most private alcohol treatment centers have personalized treatment programs for veterans. They understand the stressful situations veterans are exposed to and realize they may also be suffering from PTSD and other mental health disorders. Customized alcohol treatment for veterans includes:
- Medically Supervised Detox
- Individual Counseling and Therapy
- Group Counseling
- Support Groups with other Vets
- Family Counseling
In addition, when veterans have a co-occurring disorder, personalized treatment will include treating the mental health disorder simultaneously while treating the alcohol use disorder. There are many different treatment options available for veterans based on their individual needs. Programs must be tailored accordingly. After all, each individual has their own reasons for drinking. It is essential to uncover those reasons for treatment to be truly effective.
Do Veterans with AUD Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Veterans who developed their AUD while still on active duty may qualify for disability benefits through the VA. To be eligible for these benefits, the veteran has to show that their mental health disorder is directly related to their alcohol addiction. Most private addiction treatment centers can assist veterans with applying for disability benefits when they qualify.
Veterans Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Murfreesboro, TN
At Tulip Hill in Murfreesboro, TN, we are here to help our veterans who served our country with personalized alcohol addiction treatment programs. We also offer dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders. Take the first steps to sobriety by contacting us today.