Understanding Addiction Treatment for Military Personnel

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Being an active or inactive member of the Armed Forces means enduring and completing a variety of trainings and physical and mental challenges with the goal of becoming prepared to defend the United States of America in the event it is necessary to go to battle. Additionally, being a member of the Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, or Coast Guard could also mean that one could encounter situations and circumstances that the general population is not typically exposed to. Combat, human suffering, mass destruction, and other such catastrophes are commonplace when a person bears witness to or experiences war firsthand. For many men and women in the military, this type of exposure can result in the onset of mental health and eventual chemical dependency concerns that necessitate treatment.

Additionally, active and inactive military members are not the only individuals who are at risk for developing such concerns after having witnessed or been exposed to catastrophe. Veterans of the United States military are just as susceptible to developing psychological strife and substance abuse problems, and may require care in order to improve the quality of their lives. When this is the case, it is important for the individual and his or her family to consider seeking effective treatment.

Given the increased awareness surrounding the concerns that plague military members and veterans, several options for care have been created to help men, women, and their families. With specific regards to substance abuse, addiction, and chemical dependency, the following types of treatment are available to all members of the Armed Forces and their family members:

Detoxification Services

When a military service member or veteran has become chemically dependent upon a substance, detoxification services, or detox, may be recommended as the initial phase of a recovery journey. This level of care is often supervised by qualified medical staff who are committed to making this process one that is safe and beneficial to the individual’s wellbeing. Once complete, a person can then partake in the therapeutic aspects of treatment via residential treatment or another level of care.

Inpatient Treatment

For those who are requiring stabilization services that are short-term in nature, inpatient treatment may be an appropriate treatment option. Military servicemen and servicewomen and veterans can participate in this level of care, receive detox if it is necessary, and then advance to residential treatment or a lower level of treatment as needed.

Residential Care

As a long-term treatment option, residential care may be recommended for those military members or veterans who require more intensive and focused care in order to defeat an addiction to substances. Within this type of treatment, a person can have 24-hour access to qualified staff and partake in interventions that are designed to foster recovery and sobriety. Lastly, and depending on the program, detox may also be available at the start of this type of treatment.

Partial Hospitalization Programming

Partial hospitalization programs, or PHP, can serve as an invaluable phase of care that can occur after completing inpatient or residential treatment. This option for treatment is more intensive than lower levels of outpatient care, as it provides the structure and support men and women need to solidify their recovery skills.

Intensive Outpatient Programming

Intensive outpatient programming typically occurs a few hours each day for a few days per week. Less intensive than PHP but more supportive than traditional outpatient treatment, intensive outpatient programs, or IOP, can help an individual establish new recovery goals for the present and future.

Traditional Outpatient Treatment

Weekly or biweekly meetings with an addiction specialist or mental health professional can offer the ongoing support needed to hold true to one’s recovery goals. Sessions can last up to an hour each time and can serve as a forum in which to process one’s feelings, emotions, and experiences while in recovery with a qualified professional.

Family Support Services

Many military-specific addiction treatment programs offer supplemental family support services. Additionally, some centers provide stand-alone services for the loved ones of those who are active duty, inactive duty, or veterans of the military. When these types of services are received, the friends and family members of these individuals can expect to benefit from a combination of the following:

  • Psychoeducation opportunities that provide information about substance abuse, addiction, and chemical dependency
  • Support group sessions that include other loved ones who are working to overcome similar challenges
  • Access to resources that can provide guidance, encouragement, and support specifically for those closest to individuals who are or were in the military
  • Family therapy sessions that are led by professionals and allow loved ones to process through the damage that addiction has caused in their lives

Depending on the needs of the individual, one of the above options for care can be recommended to treat his or her substance use concerns. Furthermore, when a person participates in a program that is designed specifically for military personnel, the following unique facets of care can be experienced:

  • The treatment methods and types of interventions utilized within military programs are selected to meet the very needs of military members and veterans. This is an advantage to those who participate in such programming options as men and women can feel confident in knowing that they will be receiving the services that will meet their specific needs.
  • Many military programs include staff members with military backgrounds. This is beneficial as it ensures that those being treated can trust that the individuals providing care understand what it means to be a part of the Armed Forces.
  • With the individual’s consent, the providers of treatment within military-focused programs can have contact with his or her command if it is deemed appropriate for the person’s care.
  • Treatment for co-occurring mental health concerns, such as posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and depression, can be provided while working to overcome an addiction.

If you are an active or inactive military service member or a veteran of the Armed Forces, or if a loved one is or was in the Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, or Coast Guard, and treatment is needed to overcome a substance use disorder or disorders, know that help exists. You can seek out a referral from your military assistance services, conduct a search for military-specific addiction treatment, or consult with an addiction specialist to learn more about the services available to you or your loved one.

Remember, it is possible to defeat an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and live a healed, recovered, healthy, and happy life once more.

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