Medically Reviewed By: Benjamin Caleb Williams RN, BA, CEN
Written By: Gary Bowers
Article Updated: 01/22/2021
Number of References: 9 Sources
Our country’s veterans deserve the best we can offer. Helping veterans receive quality detox treatment is one way we can honor their service and sacrifice. For many who heed the call in serving and protecting our country, the real battles begin when they return home. Every day, substance use disorder (SUD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mental health issues, and suicide threaten veterans in civilian life. Here we will examine some of the unique challenges faced by veterans as well as some resources and solutions.
In This Article:
The pain and uncertainty of drug and alcohol withdrawal will deter many veterans from seeking care. There are many other factors that converge to create an environment where veterans are unlikely to seek help for addiction and/or mental illness. The stigma surrounding mental illness and substance abuse, and military culture of self-reliance also play a role in this crisis.
The somber irony here is that no war can be won by a single person, and a single person cannot simply will themselves into recovery. Recovery is a team effort. Recovery is a community. Recovery requires effort, diligence, and quality care. Our veterans deserve support to resolve the crisis of addiction and co-occurring mental illness.
Addiction and mental health challenges are unfortunately quite common in the military veteran communities all over the US. To put some numbers to this, we can see that:
Drug and alcohol withdrawal can be painful and dangerous. Seeking help in treating withdrawal symptoms isn’t a sign of “weakness”. Anyone who has struggled with addiction would tell you receiving help can be the ultimate sign of strength because it is often the hardest thing to do.
A veteran may not readily ask for help, so it’s important to recognize the signs of drug withdrawal.
Detox facilities are fully prepared to recognize and treat all signs and symptoms of withdrawal. If someone you know is showing these signs of withdrawal, seek the help of the professionals at detox centers.
Physical symptoms of withdrawal can vary from drug to drug. Their extent and severity will be closely tied to the extent of the abuse.
There are no FDA-approved medications for treating stimulant withdrawal. The most dangerous symptoms are psychological symptoms, and suicide is, unfortunately, a real risk during stimulant withdrawal. Having psychiatric care and observation during stimulant withdrawal is very important.
The most dangerous symptoms of opiate withdrawal include vomiting and diarrhea which can lead to severe dehydration if untreated. There are FDA-approved medications that can treat opioid dependence, and could be prescribed as a part of ongoing treatment. Medically-managed detox is always recommended
Withdrawal can be treated. When the detox process is overseen by medical professionals, the chances of safe detox and lasting recovery dramatically improve.
Our veterans deserve specialized care, and thankfully there are many options that will be tailored to their needs. For veterans who choose not to receive treatment from the VA, it can be helpful to look for programs that cater to their specific needs. Here are some points to consider:
There are 3 main types of medical detox centers for veterans. Each will offer unique benefits. Understanding their differences will be helpful in making recovery-related decisions.
Inpatient Detox: Inpatient detox would involve staying in the facility. These residential-style facilities would offer 24/7 support and care in a community-recovery style setting. Medical and non-medical therapies would be offered, including group therapy, and one on one behavioral therapy with a licensed therapist.
Outpatient Detox: Outpatient detox programs are perfect for veterans who are balancing career or school with their addiction treatment. These programs are slightly less intensive than inpatient programs but will offer therapy and treatment on a range of schedules that can easily accommodate a variety of schedules. Many outpatient programs will also be affiliated with after-care programs to help create a stable recovery plan.
Rapid Detox: Rapid detox centers are a fairly new form of medical detox that will offer 24/7 observation, and comprehensive medical treatments to complete the detox process as quickly as possible. The effectiveness and safety of rapid detox are still up for debate, and it is often significantly more expensive than other forms of detox.
Recovery is possible and you are never alone! Here are some veteran-specific resources that can help keep you connected and focused on your recovery.
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If you are seeking drug and alcohol related addiction rehab for yourself or a loved one, the sponsored hotline is a confidential and convenient solution.
Calls to any sponsored hotline (non-facility) will be answered by:
If you wish to contact a specific medical detox center then find a specific detox center using our detox locator tool.
Alternatives to finding addiction treatment or learning about substance abuse:
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