Veteran & Active Duty Military

Black woman, breath and hand on chest, for meditation and wellness being peaceful to relax. Bokeh, African American female and lady outdoor, in nature and being calm for breathing exercise and health.

Standing Strong in Sobriety and Service.

Helping Veterans and Active Military Members Recover from Trauma, Poor Mental Health and Substance Use.

Substance use problems are not uncommon among active-duty and retired members of the armed forces. Service members face unique challenges that can put them at risk for substance use, such as stressful training, combat experience and deployment.  Those who face multiple deployments, combat-related injuries and combat exposure are most at risk for substance use and mental health problems.

It’s unfortunate that the very people who sacrifice their lives for our country are often hesitant to seek support.

This is often the result of zero-tolerance policies, confidentiality concerns and stigma. For instance, service members can be dishonorably discharged and even face criminal charges if they have a positive drug test.

Lotus Recovery is committed to changing the future of substance use and mental health treatment for military service members. We want to be part of the solution, and this is why we have our Veteran & Active Military Addiction and Mental Health Outpatient Program. This program allows us to honor the bravery and sacrifice of our veterans by providing comprehensive support and care, while also addressing the unique needs and challenges of service members.

Therapist in a session with a patient

How Common is Substance Use Among Military Personnel?

More than one in ten veterans have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder (SUD), which is slightly higher than the general population. Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are the most common SUDs among military personnel. Army data from a recent behavioral health report found that 22 percent of soldiers reported hazardous or heavy drinking. Other statistics indicate that service members may be more likely to misuse alcohol, as they see this substance as a way to de-stress and connect with other fellow service members.

Rates of illicit drug use among active duty have decreased in recent years, however, this is not the case for veterans. Once active duty military personnel leave military service, rates of illicit drug use increase. Marijuana accounts for the vast majority of illicit substance use.

Opioids and other prescription medications are also a concern. Opioid use disorders among military members often start with an opioid pain prescription following an injury during deployment. However, due to the addictive nature of opioids, they can cause dependency. The risk for this is greater in those who have a co-occurring mental health disorder like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Why Military Members are at a Higher Risk for Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders

Therapy, support and psychologist talking to a woman about mental health, depression and anxiety

There are a number of reasons why substance use disorders and mental health disorders are more prevalent in service members than the general population. They include:

  • Deployment. Deployment is associated with smoking initiation, unhealthy drinking, drug use and other risky behaviors. Those with multiple deployments are most at risk for developing SUD.
  • Combat experience. Being actively deployed in a combat zone may involve numerous traumas, such as witnessing death or serious injury of others, becoming seriously injured themselves, partaking in hand-in-hand combat and more. To cope with these traumas, some people self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.
  • Psychological distress. Military service members are at a higher risk for psychological distress based on their experiences, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and traumatic brain injury. In fact, veterans are five times more likely to experience depression than civilians.
  • Military culture. Drinking is often an accepted part of military culture. It’s widely available on military bases, and there are many opportunities to participate in social drinking. Some service members also drink to relieve boredom.
  • Greater risk for injury. Because of the nature of military work, service members have a higher chance of getting injured. Treatments often include opioids, which have a high potential for misuse.

United in Service, Bonded in Recovery. Trauma Treatment in Thousand Oaks

Lotus Recovery is pleased to have the opportunity to work with active-duty and veteran military personnel, helping them overcome their substance use and mental health challenges. We have a dedicated team that will create a safe and supportive environment where you can address your concerns and work through issues using therapeutic techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma-informed care, holistic approaches and medication-assisted treatment. Contact our team today to learn more about our commitment toward helping the people that deserve it most—our nation’s military members.