VA Rehab and Veteran Insurance Benefits
A significant number of veterans across the country struggle with substance use disorder. In fact, research estimates that more than 11% of veterans who seek professional health care through the VA are diagnosed with substance use disorder, which is higher compared to those affected in the civilian population. The actual number of veterans addicted to alcohol and drugs can be even higher because most don’t seek help because of the stigma associated with addiction.
If you are a veteran struggling with alcohol or drug addiction or have a loved one with this problem, you are not alone. Many veterans resort to the use of drugs as a way of helping them cope with trauma or the challenges of adjusting to civilian life. Those returning from combat deployment may struggle with PTSD and start using drugs to cope with combat experiences like injuries or violent scenes.
Also, some may begin to use prescription opioids for pain management but become addicted over time. Addiction then causes some of them to use illicit opioids, which are easier to obtain and much cheaper. Fortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs and several other centers offer treatment services to veterans with substance use disorder. When proper care is made available to the affected veterans based on their needs, they can easily navigate these challenges and lead sober lives.
What Is the VA?
The VA is a government-owned organization that provides medical care, vital services, and other benefits to Veterans and their families in the United States. The goal is to offer veterans exceptional benefits by sticking to the highest standards of professionalism, commitment, and compassion. The VA Health Administration has created an extensive integrated healthcare system of thousands of facilities in the country that provides professional care to more than 9 million veterans annually.
How Do Veteran Insurance Benefits Work?
Some veterans have VA health benefits and other private insurance plans. VA insurance is your primary source of healthcare treatment. Private insurance plans can help you access more treatment options at non-VA facilities if you can’t get a space in a VA facility near you. Typically, you can use the extra health insurance plan to cover expenses for non-service-related illnesses or cover a part of the VA copayment when you receive medical care at a VA facility.
Qualifications for Substance Use Treatment Through the VA
Specific eligibility requirements must be met in order to receive VA health care benefits, including alcohol and drug addiction treatment. You must have served active duty in the military without receiving a dishonorable discharge. In case you received a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge, you can apply for a discharge upgrade. Except for certain exceptions, you must have served for two consecutive years or for the whole period of service you were assigned. If you were discharged from active duty because of a disability, you have a higher chance of receiving maximum benefits.
Do VA Benefits Cover Rehab Treatment for Substance Use Disorder?
The VA benefits cover all or some of the costs of substance use problems treatment. Even veterans who have secondary health insurance can still use the VA benefits. Your insurance coverage depends on your benefits, so check with the VA before seeking treatment. VA insurance makes addiction treatment available for all veterans at a low price under Affordable Care Act. However, the VA benefits depend on several factors, including the duration of treatment, level of care, any additional insurance coverage that you might have, and whether you’ll receive treatment through a VA rehab center.
Does Veteran Insurance Cover Co-occurring Disorders and Mental Health?
There is a close relationship between substance abuse and mental health issues. Notably, a 2020 research by the NIDA shows that one in every four individuals suffering from mental health issues also struggles with substance use disorders. Treating both conditions helps to address the full spectrum of an individual’s needs and has the best outcome.
Your VA insurance covers treatment for mental health issues and co-occurring disorders such as:
- Specialized services for PTSD
- Suicidal thoughts
- Sexual assault and trauma
- Bipolar disorder
- Panic disorder
- Specific phobias
- Substance use problems
- Social anxiety
PTSD services are especially crucial since about 80% of people affected by this condition have mental health issues, according to the VA. This coverage may also include programs for incarcerated and homeless veterans. The treatment options available to veterans are critical in improving their mental health conditions. These services are offered by specialty clinics, residential care facilities, primary care providers, residential rehabilitation facilities, and some hospitals.
Does the VA Cover Prescription Medication?
The VA covers FDA-approved medications. However, VA insurance only covers specific types of addiction. Therefore, whether VA benefits will cover prescription medication for drug use will depend on a veteran’s substance use disorder and the type of treatment services.
Some medications used in VA substance use disorder programs include:
Available Addiction Treatment Services Offered Through the VA
The challenge of adjusting to civilian life after military deployment is a major reason why many veterans turn to substance use. Some of the most common substances that veterans use are alcohol, prescription medications, opioids, cocaine, and marijuana. The VA helps veterans recover from alcohol and drug use through treatment addiction programs at rehab centers.
Inpatient Treatment Rehab Program
Also referred to as residential rehab, this program provides veterans with a live-in option. In these facilities, veterans are monitored 24/7 by addiction treatment professionals. This program offers individual treatment plans to ensure veterans conquer alcohol or drug addiction. Residential rehab programs are effective for veterans with severe drug and alcohol consumption issues, especially those with other mental health conditions.
Living in an inpatient facility helps you avoid influences and temptations that can trigger substance use. The intensive care offered under residential programs focuses on assisting veterans in adopting an alcohol- or drug-free lifestyle. The program can run for 90 days to a year, depending on the type and level of substance use. Living in a healthy environment plays a crucial role in your recovery.
Outpatient Treatment Rehab Program
Veterans who attend outpatient rehab programs get treatment and therapy at their own convenience because they don’t reside in a medical facility. Those who choose outpatient programs can continue living at home while still recovering, allowing them to take care of their families and still go to work. The daily treatment options offered in this program include therapy, medical-assisted treatment, and individual or group counseling. Also, the sessions are less intensive than inpatient programs and become less frequent as you continue receiving treatment.
When veterans use alcohol or drugs, they experience severe withdrawal symptoms upon quitting. These symptoms include fatigue, depression, nausea, hallucinations, irritability, cravings, anxiety, and insomnia. That’s why detoxification is vital in addiction treatment to help veterans withdraw from substance use safely. Detox is a medication-assisted treatment program that cleanses the body of the toxins that you consume. The detox process starts with an evaluation by health experts to determine the medical intervention needed. Veterans are also monitored 24/7 until it is determined that the body is stable enough to go through other rehab procedures or activities.
Depending on the alcohol or drug a veteran consumes, there are different detoxification procedures. The withdrawal symptoms can also differ. Therefore, both inpatient and outpatient programs can include the detoxification process. In the outpatient setting, the detox process mainly includes medications and assessments to determine the withdrawal progress. On the other hand, residential facilities are suitable for veterans who need 24-hour professional monitoring during detox. This way, medical personnel can provide observation, support, and supervision to veterans experiencing acute withdrawal or those actively intoxicated.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Recovering from alcohol and drug addiction also requires a drastic change of thoughts and behavior. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) sessions focus on teaching veterans how to handle different situations without resorting to substance use. Behavioral therapies are important for issues such as PTSD, anxiety disorders, and depression.
Cognitive behavior therapy helps veterans to overcome substance use disorder by offering them self-help tools to improve their mood, teaching them the most effective ways of coping with psychological problems, and increasing their awareness of unhelpful ways of thinking.
There are several trigger situations in a veteran’s daily life that can prevent many of them from remaining sober. CBT’s main aim is to help veterans struggling with addiction to recognize, avoid, and cope with these triggers.
Veterans experience traumatic situations such as serious injuries, life-threatening events, and sexual violence while on active duty. Trauma therapy helps veterans deal with the emotional response or impacts resulting from such events. These counseling sessions are essential in dealing with PTSD and mental health issues. They offer veterans the skills and strategies that assist them in processing and coping with the traumatic memories and emotions they encountered. The main aim is to help veterans minimize the occurrence of nightmares and flashbacks.
Typically, aftercare is an ongoing treatment process that you receive after leaving a rehab facility. Aftercare is vital for any veteran who has completed alcohol or drug treatment. This program is especially crucial in preventing relapse among veterans. In fact, research shows that there is a high risk of relapse within the first few months after leaving a rehab facility. This program also assists veterans in anticipating future challenges in their sobriety journey and the best way to solve them as they work on their life goals.
Aftercare plans may differ from person to person, based on individual needs, but they mostly take the following forms:
- Attending a 12-step recovery program
- Participating in alumni programs
- Attending individual or group counseling sessions
- Staying in a sober-living home
Must Veterans Go to VA Rehab Facilities for Addiction Treatment?
In most cases, veterans with alcohol and drug addiction choose to attend VA rehab facilities for treatment. However, these VA treatment centers may lack specialized treatment tracks or have long wait times. These challenges are mainly caused by the high number of veterans who prefer VA facilities because of the low cost. But the VA rehabs aren’t the only available options for veterans looking for substance use treatment centers. You can seek help from VeteransRehab.org, a resource that offers substance use treatment to individuals who have served this country through military participation.
Seek Professional Substance Use Disorder Treatment for Veterans
Our men and women need courage and bravery to protect our country and serve in different deployment areas. Still, it takes similar courage for them to admit they need help. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, there is hope to live a sober and more fulfilling life. No matter how helpless you may feel, our team at VeteransRehab.org is here to help you find your path to freedom. Reach out to us today to start the journey to recovery.