Statistics for Veterans Addiction 2021

The concepts of chronic pain, substance abuse, and mental health have been around for a long time. In fact, since the United States was even born, mental illness, alcohol abuse, and drug addiction have been making headlines.

Alongside their long-term lifespan, substance abuse disorders and mental health issues have been stigmatized for decades.

Substance Abuse and Mental Disorders Have Been Around for a Long Time

Because, as a general population, United States citizens believed that substance use disorders were nothing more than illicit drug or alcohol use. And that those who struggled with mental health disorders, alcoholism, or drug abuse were either willingly letting outside substances control their lives intentionally. Or people believed addicts were trying to make things difficult for others attempting to live a good civilian life.

But, what they failed to realize is that no one ever intends to become an addict. And in some cases, addiction and mental illness attach themselves to individuals trying to live good civilian lives.

The Mental Health Services Administration Explains Alcohol Use and Drug Abuse

As years passed, substance use and those who struggled with drug or alcohol abuse were looked down on. People who wrestled with addiction were never thought of as unfortunate souls. Instead, they were labeled degenerate trouble makers, looking to make life challenging and dangerous for others.

And although some people do indeed choose to use illicit drugs or engage in alcohol abuse for fun.

Not all individuals who struggle with substance abuse and mental health disorders intentionally misuse substances.

Luckily, today in the United States, citizens have become wiser. And individuals who struggle with substance use disorders are no longer inherently treated as intentional criminals. Instead, with the help of the Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Americans have finally come to understand that a substance use disorder is a form of mental illness.

As a Mental Illness, Illicit Drug Use Disorder and Alcohol Abuse Can Be Treated

Yet, even though millions of Americans are now aware of addiction’s true nature, opioid overdose deaths and the trafficking of illegal drugs in the United States still run rampant.

This is due to two major issues and many underlying problems.

First, millions of Americans and their families who struggle with illicit drug use and alcoholism either don’t realize there are treatment centers for their condition. Or they are in denial of needing to seek treatment. Second, although the crackdown on illegal drugs has undoubtedly improved, saving countless lives, people mistakenly believe that all forms of substance abuse involve illicit substances.

Prescription drug abuse in the United States causes as much trouble as using illegal drugs. And it is much harder to detect.

The Basics of Prescription Drug Misuse

For starters, problematic prescription drug use can be challenging to define. People use and misuse medications for a wide variety of reasons. Whether they are looking to help themselves sleep, focus, or as a form of pain management, etc.

In the end, prescription drug abuse is a lot like binge drinking alcohol. Because many people believe their use of prescription medications is within okay limits. Like how similarly, culturally and societally, many Americans today think drinking heavily on the weekends or in party atmospheres for fun is normal.

Chronic Pain can Drive Someone to Abuse Drugs or Alcohol

And they do not consider patterns like binge drinking as equivalents to alcohol abuse when it is.

Similarly, when someone intentionally takes too many prescription pain relievers, excusing their actions as an attempt to aid their pain management, they too are engaging in substance abuse.

For example, many opioid use disorder cases start with the misuse of prescription drugs.

Why is it Harder to Detect Prescription Drug Abuse?

It can be extremely challenging to detect prescription abuse for several reasons. First, even with appropriate prescription pain reliever use, people may begin to exhibit similar symptoms to addiction. For example, they may become moody or withdrawn from family members or friends.

Additionally, unless a family member or friend keeps count of their loved one’s dosage intakes and how often they occur. It can be challenging to determine whether an individual is taking too much of their medication.

Prescription medications are potent, putting users at increased risk for developing an addiction.

But in many physical and mental health treatment cases, clients, after initial care, are left to administer their medications on their own. Meanwhile, it can be very easy to pick up on the physical and mental health indicators of prescription drug abuse in other cases.

In The End, The Person Trying to Have a Fun Weekend Isn’t Trying to Become a Chronic Alcohol Abuser

Likewise, the individual taking an extra dose of methadone or codeine isn’t trying to develop an opioid use disorder. Even so, that does not make heavy drinking or using prescription drugs outside of your doctor’s instructions any less dangerous. Individuals who abuse alcohol or drugs in this way are at increased risk for developing a substance use condition without even realizing they have a problem.

Additionally, they place themselves at risk of experiencing all the same adverse side effects illicit drugs cause.

At any point in someone’s life, they too can become addicted to drugs or alcohol. And each case of addiction can look vastly different, some involving domestic violence and sexual assault cases. Others involve post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the differences between civilian life and active-duty military members. Medications and illicit substances are potent chemical compounds, and they have the potential to both help and harm. As a result, they must be treated with great caution.

Where it All Started; Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Active Duty Service Members

Drug and alcohol abuse disorders are such powerful mental illnesses they even meddle in veterans’ affairs and among active duty service members. How does substance addiction affect military personnel, you may ask?

There are a few ways.

Military doctors, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and even the Department of Veterans affairs all agree. Addiction can occur for many reasons.

But amongst military service members? Traumatic events from military combat deployments play a leading role in veteran and active duty service members developing substance use issues.

Traumatic Brain Injury, Chronic Pain from an Injury, PTSD Mental Health Care, and More Can Lead Military Members to Turn to Drug or Alcohol Use

Dedicating even a portion of your life to the defense of your home country is a huge sacrifice. A sacrifice many people try to either downplay, do not understand the significance of, or even take for granted. But many civilians are forever grateful for the sacrifices military service members make. Serving in the military can be a rewarding career. But it is also a difficult position, fraught with danger and pain.

Still, men and women of all backgrounds decide to lend their services and lives to our country’s protection.

For some, the choice will lead them into a great many advanceable, precious, and life-altering opportunities. For others, service in the United States military can lead to chronic mental, emotional and physical pain that may last a lifetime.

The real question is, what happens when active service ends?

How Combat Exposure, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Return to Civilian Life, and More Relate to Veteran Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues

The stresses that accompany active-duty deployments and service are high. There are unique cultural pressures within the military that ordinary civilians will never experience or understand. And the demands for peak performance, obedience, social interactions, and the job position itself can prove hazardous to troops even long after leaving the active-duty field.

Out of the millions of people who call the United States home, only a little under 1% of those individuals voluntarily enroll to be military members. And out of that 1.3 million individuals or so, even less than 1% resort to using illicit drugs while still an active duty member. But to cope with the stresses of their lives, many active military members will turn to drinking and smoking to try and help keep their nerves and emotions together.

Drug addiction in active-duty members may be rare, but the rates of addicted veterans seem to always be on the rise.

Substance Abuse Statistics and Military Personnel

Even though the United States only has around 1 million active service members today, a little more than 19 million veterans reside within the nation.

They represent only about 10% of the United States’ total populace, but they are an integral part of our community. And many of them are suffering. Even though many active-duty service members can refrain from drug abuse, heavy drinking runs rampant in their ranks. And unfortunately, many veterans struggle with added stresses that may cause them to seriously consider substance use once they are no longer active service members.

Female and Male Veterans Both Struggle with Mental Health Care

What do these added stress look like, you might ask? Many veterans come face to face with a series of traumatizing events in their military lives.

As a result, many vets find it difficult to re-adjust to everyday life when they return home from deployment. Many of our former service members have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Department of Veterans Affairs Recorded Data on Substance Abuse Disorders and Mental Health Issues in Active Duty Military Personnel

Some realize they need help and search for ways to help cope with their PTSD, and others may struggle without realizing what they are combating. PTSD is one of the leading causes of veteran substance abuse.

Some other common military veteran substance abuse statistics and rates include:

  • An estimated one in every ten to fifteen veterans suffers from a substance use disorder or addiction.
  • Veterans who have PTSD tend to binge drink regularly.
  • One out of every three veterans seeking treatment for a substance use disorder has PTSD.
  • More than two out of every ten veterans with PTSD also have some form of alcohol or drug addiction.
  • Military veterans who struggle with substance abuse are three to four times more likely to be diagnosed with a mental health issue than those who do not misuse substances.
  • Veteran drug abuse is commonly linked to heroin use, cocaine, marijuana, and other synthetic opioids.
  • Substance abuse is not limited to younger age groups in veterans; in fact, each generation has its percentage of users that flux over time.

Substance abuse amongst male and female veterans is not uncommon. Many of these individuals who worked so hard to protect our country come back from deployment with extra baggage.

Traumatic experiences can make the adjustment period of transitioning from military to civilian life. Or even struggling with an injury that requires them to take specific types of potent opioid medications can all play a part in developing an addiction in vets.

Military Service Culture and Substance Use Disorders in Military Veterans

Heavy drinking in the military is common. Drug abuse–including accidental misuse–is also a common obstacle many veterans face and work to overcome.

Do you have a veteran family member or friend who struggles with substance abuse or addiction? Or, maybe you are a veteran that needs help? You can recover! Addiction does not have to rule your life any longer.

Substance Abuse Treatment for Military Personnel and in Veterans Affairs

Thousands of drug and alcohol treatment centers exist across the nation. Like our very own St. John’s Recovery Place (SJRP), treatment programs across the country dedicate their services to helping people heal, no matter their past circumstances.

St. John’s specializes in holistic and innovative substance abuse healing experiences. We work to make our substance abuse treatment programs flexible, and this way, they can be tailored to meet the needs of every client we come into contact with. If you or a loved one is a veteran or even an active-duty military service member struggling with addiction, there are options for help.

For a long time, the options were not the greatest. Still, today, substance abuse treatment for veterans is only continuing to get better.

St. John’s Substance Abuse Treatment Center Supports Clients from All Walks of Life

Maybe you are scared to admit you have a problem. Or you are embarrassed that it happened to you or are even nervous that your health care coverage will not be enough to help cover your treatment needs. But you do not need to put your healing on old or push your mental health or substance use issues to the side. Healing is possible. SJRP is a safe space where you can heal.

But, if you are uncomfortable with attending a regular addiction rehab, there are specialized military health channels and avenues that can help supplement areas of your recovery journey. Thus, making your path to successful recovery more streamlined, familiar, less stressful, and more secure.

Not Every Substance Addiction Treatment Center is like St. John’s Recovery Place

Not every addiction treatment method is suitable for each client. And not every recovery facility or the program will work well for each veteran.

In substance abuse and alcoholism recovery, you need to find the treatment center that will work right for you. Here at SJRP, we are more than willing to help you as a veteran find the right path for yourself to heal. Addiction rates in veterans are climbing every year. But veteran addiction treatment centers continue to fight for the health and well-being of our former service members. You still matter. And we are grateful to you.

You helped us; now let us help you. Call SJRP today at 1-833-397-3422 to learn more about how you can start your healing.