Types of Addiction Therapy for Veterans

Types of Addiction Therapy for Veterans

Our nation’s veterans have been its strength for centuries, defending our liberties and keeping us secure. However, many veterans have experienced traumatic events and are dealing with circumstances that make it challenging to manage their daily lives. Providing veterans with access to emotional aid and rehabilitation services is a meaningful way to say “thank you” for all that they’ve done.

Why Is Substance Abuse So Prevalent Among Veterans?

Veterans have some of the highest likelihood of developing an addiction. The high prevalence of substance abuse disorders among veterans is most likely a result of:

  • A high prevalence of PTSD and other mental illnesses
  • Combat exposure, particularly those that result in traumatic brain injuries
  • A high rate of substance abuse during military service
  • Injuries causing persistent pain
  • Adaptation to stress in a different form
  • A hesitation to seek assistance because of embarrassment or other factors
  • Failure to recognize and admit the existence of a problem

In general, substance abuse issues in veterans are typically associated with poor mental health. Those with PTSD or suicidal thoughts or actions are more inclined to use illegal drugs, prescription medicines, or alcohol.

Substance Abuse and a Guide to Withdrawal

Many veterans seek prescription drugs for pain relief or reduction of mental distress. Nonetheless, these drugs have the potential for abuse and can result in addiction. Others directly abuse other substances to numb the pain. Eventually, they may become addicted.

Alcohol and drug withdrawal can be deadly and painful. Seeking treatment for withdrawal symptoms is not an indication of “weakness.” Anyone who has fought with addiction will tell you that getting assistance is sometimes the toughest thing to do and, as such, is the ultimate demonstration of strength. Here are some signs of withdrawal.

Aggression and Anger

Aggression and anger are often associated with PTSD; thus, they may or may not be a direct sign of withdrawal. However, individuals withdrawing from substance use often become frustrated and filled with anger because their brain chemistry has been altered so that it revolves around the drug.

Anxiety, Depression, and Mood Changes

These symptoms may co-occur with rage but are normally expressed more subtly. Substance abuse drastically alters your normal brain function. During withdrawal, the brain’s healing mechanisms speed up, prompting the onset of these mental health issues.

Anxiety may only manifest in social or unstructured situations. On the other hand, depression results in a lack of interest or drive to perform routine duties or even to engage in activities that a person would normally enjoy.

Flu-like Symptoms

Nausea, vomiting, incontinence, aches, and pains are all withdrawal symptoms. Although they may appear to be simple to treat, when related to withdrawal, they can be extremely dangerous or fatal when left untreated.

Psychosis or Psychotic Incidents

Some veterans may experience psychotic episodes accompanied by hallucinations, unusual or unexplainable sensory distortions–such as seeing, hearing, and feeling that are not present–and disorientation.

Frequent Absenteeism

Individuals may withdraw from friends and family to conceal their anguish and suffering. The withdrawal could occur concurrently with drug-seeking behaviors such as late-night drinking or being absent for extended periods while searching for drugs.

How and Why to Seek Help When Dealing with Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is physically, mentally, and economically draining, and you’ll need more than willpower to overcome it. Note that prolonged substance use causes changes to your brain, leading to intense cravings and a compulsion to use. Also, while you can consistently succeed with detox depending on your level of addiction, certain social and psychological factors can be powerful triggers leading to relapse.

Professional help will help you escape cravings and manage everything that life throws at you without alcohol and drugs. Consider the adverse effects that the following substances cause, which further underscores the importance of seeking help.


Withdrawal from alcohol can be lethal. Serious symptoms include seizures and convulsions and delirium tremens, characterized by disorientation and hallucinations. Other symptoms include tremors, sleeplessness, sweating, and headaches.


Stimulants can be extremely life-threatening, and cocaine withdrawal symptoms might include trembling, depression, loss of appetite, and anxiety. Psychological effects are the most harmful, and suicide is regrettably a concern during amphetamine withdrawal. Psychiatric treatment and observation are essential.

Heroin and Other Opiates

Withdrawal from opioids is excruciatingly unpleasant and, in rare instances, fatal. Typical symptoms include aches and pains in the body and joints, a runny nose, and elevated blood pressure. The most hazardous symptoms of opiate withdrawal are vomiting and diarrhea, which, if left untreated, can lead to severe dehydration.

Benzodiazepines and Other Sedatives

Serious symptoms of benzo withdrawal include seizures, disorientation, insomnia, muscular spasms, and elevated blood pressure.

It is worth noting that withdrawal is treatable when medical professionals supervise detox. Thus, if you’re looking for a rehabilitation center, carefully explore the different types of treatment programs offered to ensure your needs are met. Nonetheless, individualized treatment is the most successful and efficient whether short-term or long-term, residential inpatient, outpatient, or dual diagnosis programs.

In some cases, your area may not have a suitable treatment program. However, if it has, consider the advantages and disadvantages of enrolling in a local program versus traveling out of state.

Types of Addiction Treatment Programs

Substance abuse rehabilitation programs differ depending on the needs of the individual and the extent of their addiction. Some clients may finish rehabilitation on an outpatient basis, while others may require more extensive care, like residential treatment. You can engage with a team of substance abuse professionals to select which substance abuse rehabilitation program suits you.

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient treatment programs address all aspects of an addict’s addiction. During inpatient rehabilitation, individuals dwell in a substance-free institution and get medical and therapeutic treatment around the clock. Individuals facing persistent addiction and those battling a co-occurring behavioral or mental problem may benefit from inpatient rehabilitation.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehabilitation programs are another type of comprehensive addiction treatment. These programs provide many of the same successful therapies and treatments as residential treatment facilities. However, outpatient rehabilitation programs permit clients to rehabilitate at home. Clients can work and care for their families while receiving treatment.

Outpatient rehabilitation programs do not exclude clients from the physical world, so clients enrolled in this type of treatment are more likely to face triggers that threaten their sobriety. Thus, outpatient rehab centers are ideal for those with moderate forms of addiction, a supportive and sober support system at home, and a motivated, disciplined attitude to recovery.


Detoxification enables individuals to withdraw from alcohol or drugs safely until the chemicals are no longer present in the body. It is the initial step in treating moderate to severe addiction.

In some instances, detoxing from specific narcotics requires medication-assisted treatment to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Medications are generally reduced until the client isn’t any longer physically reliant.

Sober Living Homes

Sober living houses bridge the gap between inpatient treatment and daily life. These are an excellent choice for individuals in recovery who require additional time to reinforce what they learned in therapy. People in recovery can strengthen their new lifestyle while living in a comfortable, structured atmosphere provided by sober living facilities. It’s also beneficial to be around people who are going through the same part of their treatment as you. Your housemates in sober living can be a strong support network when you’re struggling.

Addiction Treatment Medications

Clients may be given drugs to aid with detox and treatment. These drugs serve a variety of purposes, including the management of withdrawal symptoms, the reduction of cravings, and the treatment of co-occurring illnesses. When used with a structured treatment program, addiction medications are most successful.

Faith-Based Treatment

Some individuals favor a more spiritual approach to rehabilitation. Faith-based rehabilitation institutes offer specialized religious programming and facilities. Here, persons in recovery can encircle themselves with like-minded people seeking instruction from a higher power.


Addiction treatments depend on a person’s health and substance abuse tendencies. Typically, addiction counselors schedule a variety of individual and group therapy sessions.

Biofeedback Treatment

Biofeedback is a non-drug method of therapy that assists individuals in recovery in understanding their body’s automatic functions. A therapist implants electrical sensors on a client’s skin to record their brain activity during a biofeedback session. After analyzing brain wave patterns, the psychotherapist can suggest a variety of psychological approaches for overcoming addictions.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used to assist persons in recovery in identifying troublesome ideas or emotions that may damage their sobriety or lead to relapse. In addition to treating co-occurring conditions, like bipolar disorder, this method of treatment is also effective for treating comorbid conditions.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

In dialectical behavioral treatment (DBT), severe mental disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder are treated concurrently with a substance use problem. This therapy seeks to boost self-esteem, teach stress management, and help those in recovery to eliminate stressors from their lives.

Experiential Counseling

Experiential therapy employs non-traditional treatment approaches to assist recovering addicts in overcoming suppressed experiences and emotions that could have caused their addiction. Outdoor recreational activities, like rock climbing, are typical examples of this therapy.

Holistic Therapy

Here, the emphasis is on the individual’s complete health; withdrawal symptoms are also treated physically. Yoga, acupuncture, music therapy, meditation, and yoga may be incorporated into holistic therapies.

Motivational Enhancement Treatment

Motivational enhancement treatment (MET) teaches rehabilitating addicts how to modify their negative attitudes and actions associated with their addiction. This style of therapy is widely utilized to address co-occurring illnesses in substance addiction recovery clients (PTSD).

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic treatment enables clients to investigate their emotions to determine how their subconscious thoughts are connected to their addiction. This assists in identifying the root cause of substance abuse. Individuals are considerably better prepared to identify and resist temptations within their ongoing recovery if they engage closely with therapists to recognize these deep-seated emotions.

Medication-assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) refers to using medication to treat addictions to specific substances, especially alcohol and opiates. MAT has been demonstrated to have beneficial effects on clients, particularly when combined with other types of treatment, such as CBT. The FDA-approved drugs used in MAT are frequently adjusted to the individual’s needs.

Buprenorphine a partial opioid agonist found in Subutex and Suboxone. In drug treatment programs, veterans may get buprenorphine to assist with moderate cravings for opioids such as heroin or OxyContin.

Methadone is a controlled medication used to treat opioid addiction by reducing cravings for opioids. It is a less-intense opioid that is given in doses that are specific to each client’s current needs. The goal is to eventually wean from the drug completely.

Disulfiram, often known by its brand name Antabuse, is a drug developed to assist alcoholics in abstaining from alcohol. Disulfiram, one of three FDA-approved medications for treating alcohol use disorder, causes nausea, vomiting, nervousness, and flushing when alcohol is consumed. It is frequently used in outpatient settings but can also be prescribed in inpatient settings, depending on the client’s needs.

Acamprosate another drug that helps limit alcohol consumption. It is utilized less frequently than Disulfiram and other FDA-approved drugs. Naltrexone known as Vivitrol, reduces alcohol cravings and treats opiate use disorders. Naltrexone binds to multiple brain receptors and blocks the effects of opioids and alcohol.

Why Select a VA or VA-Affiliated Substance Abuse Treatment Center

While you could always choose any substance abuse treatment center close to you, selecting a VA treatment program is one of the surest ways to ensure a quick recovery. Most VA programs have a long-standing reputation and extensive experience and knowledge in meeting veterans’ demands; thus, your individual needs will be met. Also, the VA program was specifically created to serve the interest of veterans. Thus, many staff members have the necessary knowledge and skills to meet your needs, making finding a VA center essential.

Perhaps you cannot access the nearest VA treatment center, or the center near you is full. In that case, you could always visit a private provider partnered with the VA through the Community Care Network. This will allow you to get the help you need.

VeteransRehab.org offers free addiction treatment and mental health resources for veterans and active military.