Among veterans, alcohol is the most commonly abused substance. In fact, veterans abuse alcohol for a number of reasons. Usually, however, it’s because they’re suffering from mental illnesses obtained in the field or are having difficulties adjusting to everyday life after deployment.
Alcohol Abuse in the Military
Service members are more likely to abuse alcohol than the average person. As a result, many service members in active duty military roles see drinking as part of their culture.
Alcohol is a way to connect with other service members in the military. Moreover, many restaurants and bars offer discounted prices for veterans or active service members in America. Accessibility to alcohol is another reason alcohol use disorders are the most common form of substance abuse among military members.
In recent years with more deployments to hot zones, there has been an increase in American veteran alcohol consumption. This has resulted in alcohol-related health issues among service members.
Alcohol abuse among veterans can continue long after military service ends. In fact, studies show that veteran alcohol addictions are much more likely than civilians with alcohol addictions.
Signs of Alcohol Abuse in Veterans
It is important to be aware of the signs of alcohol dependency in veterans. Some signs of alcohol abuse in veterans are:
- Physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal (insomnia, nausea, shakiness)
- Aggression, irritability, hostility
- Hiding alcohol and bottles
- Drinking in private
- Putting themselves in harm’s way after drinking heavily
- Losing interest in hobbies, personal, and professional goals
PTSD Among Veterans
It is extremely common for veterans to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in conjunction with an alcohol use disorder. PTSD is a mental health condition that happens after an individual experiences a traumatic life event. Veterans experiencing PTSD are more vulnerable to substance abuse and mental health issues. Some symptoms of PTSD are:
- Nightmares / Night Terrors
- Self-destructive behavior
Alcohol Abuse and PTSD
Very often, alcohol is used to mask the trauma or forget traumatic incidents. As a result, many veterans become dependent on the effects of alcohol. However, frequent binge drinking can rewire the brain by building up a person’s tolerance and increasing their alcohol dependence over time.
Since binge drinking can affect the brain over time, it makes sense that it can also affect a veteran’s PTSD. A veteran’s alcohol addiction can prolong PTSD symptoms, as well as intensify them. Remember that alcohol is a depressant. Therefore, drinking can exacerbate some of the common PTSD symptoms such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and more.
The Impact of Veteran Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol abuse among veterans can have a huge impact on both active military members as well as veterans. Alcohol addiction can be dangerous for the individual and affect family members, friends, and nearly everybody around them. Over time, alcohol abuse can take a massive toll on a person’s life, professional goals, health, and emotional well-being.
Unfortunately, few veterans get the help that they deserve. While some veterans try to self-treat their condition, others tend to hide their condition from friends and family, likely in order to avoid veteran alcohol rehab. Seemingly harmless situations in which social drinking is taking place can then lead to a dependency on alcohol.
If a veteran has an underlying mental health condition such as PTSD, the risks become increasingly higher. Some additional risks of alcohol abuse among veterans are:
- Challenges at home/the workplace
Discover Veteran Alcohol Rehab at Sophros Recovery
If you or a loved one are a veteran currently struggling with alcohol abuse, know that you are not alone. Sophros Recovery has a plethora of resources for veterans specifically. Reach out to Sophros Recovery today at 904.760.4295 to discuss our veteran alcohol treatment options.