Countless veterans across the nation struggle with addiction and mental health disorders. Addiction can develop during their time in the military, or when they have been discharged or retired from …
Countless veterans across the nation struggle with addiction and mental health disorders. Addiction can develop during their time in the military, or when they have been discharged or retired from service. Too many veterans battle these problems in silence with no help.
This Memorial Day, millions of American families will take time to honor the memory of the men and women who lost their lives in one of the nation’s wars. It can be a challenging time for veterans who lost friends or family members, especially those already struggling with addiction.
In New York there are over 740,000 veterans, most of whom are wartime vets. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 3.9 million veterans have a substance use disorder or mental illness.
Unfortunately, substance use disorders significantly increase suicidality among veterans ages 18 and older. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are also common among veterans ages 18 to 49.
“While early intervention saves lives, too many veterans fall through the cracks and succumb to their addiction or suicide ideation,” said Michael Leach of Addicted.org.
There are many causative factors as to why veterans become addicted to drugs or alcohol. For instance, this can include difficulties adjusting to civilian life. They may experience financial hardships, difficulty finding employment, or accessing benefits.
Veterans are also at a higher risk of experiencing mental and emotional health concerns. This can be compounded with physical injury or chronic pain. Untreated trauma, for example, can impact all aspects of life. This can lead to drug and alcohol use as a means of coping.
Families also play a significant role in supporting their loved ones struggling with addiction. It’s OK to show concern and speak to them openly and honestly about their substance use. Help them find treatment. Be patient and show compassion for what they are experiencing. Remember, addiction and mental health issues are treatable.
It takes communities and families coming together to help veterans battling these problems. It’s never too late to offer a helping hand.
Veronica Raussin is a community outreach coordinator for Addicted.org. She is passionate about spreading awareness of the risks and dangers of alcohol and drug use.
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