Many veterans return from military service bearing scars they didn’t have before, but not all scars are physical. For some, the trauma they endured follows them home. It may even push them to use drugs and alcohol to cope. Unfortunately, substance abuse can cause their mental state to worsen further. To learn healthier coping methods, veterans should try addiction and trauma therapy at Heroes’ Mile.
Because of their unique military experiences, veterans often require specialized mental health care. They can find the personalized treatment they need by choosing a rehab center that offers trauma-informed services. With compassion and patience, all veterans can learn how to process and cope with their traumatic experiences in healthy ways.
The Prevalence of Addiction and Trauma in Veterans
Compared to the general United States population, veterans are more likely to experience traumatic events and develop mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The reasons for this vary, but can mostly be attributed to the intense, distressing nature of military life.
Examples of traumatic experiences and other contributors to post-traumatic stress in veterans include:
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- Survivor’s guilt
- Combat exposure
- Training accidents
- Military sexual trauma (MST)
- Grief and loss
While veterans are not the only ones who can live through many of the above experiences, they are far more likely to encounter them than civilians. Therefore, it is vital that they have access to addiction and trauma therapy designed with them in mind, especially if they end up resorting to substance use to evade their memories.
Substance Abuse as a Coping Mechanism
Trauma and addiction often appear together. Their simultaneous presence is so common, in fact, that when substance use disorder appears alongside another mental health issue like PTSD, they are referred to as a dual diagnosis (or co-occurring disorders).
The intrinsic ties between PTSD and substance abuse inspire the foundation for addiction and trauma therapy. It is crucial to use a trauma-informed approach when treating co-occurring disorders, and to ensure both are addressed during therapy. Otherwise, someone’s trauma and addiction may continue to feed into each other and cause their mental health to deteriorate further.
One of the ways the connection between a traumatic experience and addiction can spark involves someone’s attempts to cope. Certain substances can impair memory, while others trigger a sense of euphoria that overwhelms pre-existing feelings of negativity. In either case, someone may turn to drugs or alcohol to try and escape the emotions or memories associated with traumatic events.
This is especially prevalent in members of the military, who have historically used tobacco, alcohol, and drugs at higher rates than the civilian population. For instance, more than one in 10 veterans either return from service with substance use problems or develop them shortly thereafter.
Furthermore, over a third of veterans with addictions also live with PTSD. The significant overlap between the two demonstrates the importance of synchronized addiction and trauma therapy. It is not an occasional or small issue, but a major mental health concern that affects millions of veterans every year.
Addiction and Trauma Therapy
Effective addiction and trauma therapy involves specialized treatment modalities designed for those who have experienced trauma. This includes conducting thorough trauma screenings, closely involving patients in treatment planning, creating safe environments, and training all staff members on trauma-informed practices.
Ultimately, no two people have the same trauma. Informed care does not mean searching for the singular, perfect treatment option for everyone who has lived through a traumatic event. Instead, trauma-informed therapy emphasizes understanding and flexibility. It acknowledges that every individual has their own unique story, and that their treatment should reflect that.
In order to accommodate everyone who comes into our care, Heroes’ Mile utilizes numerous types of addiction and trauma therapy. Our team assesses the needs of each patient and helps determine which treatment options will benefit them the most.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is a popular type of addiction and trauma therapy. It suggests that many people’s brains don’t process traumatic memories correctly. As a result, they experience recurring negative thoughts and behaviors. However, by reprocessing those memories in a safe and controlled setting, they can learn to minimize their painful feelings.
EMDR therapy uses eye movements and repetitive tapping to help individuals process and talk about distressing experiences. For instance, during an EMDR session, the therapist may slowly move their finger back and forth in front of the patient’s face. As the patient tracks the movement with their eyes, they talk through a traumatic memory.
The unique process of EMDR therapy works due to a concept called bilateral stimulation. By moving their eyes or tapping repeatedly, patients can mimic the way the brain activates during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM sleep is associated with processing information and storing memories, so mimicking its effect on the brain helps patients reprocess their old memories.
Though EMDR therapy primarily helps those with conditions like PTSD, it has proven to be effective in treating a vast assortment of mental health concerns. Individuals with depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders can all benefit from EMDR therapy. For this reason, it is a valuable component of addiction and trauma therapy alike.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Another common type of addiction and trauma therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on the relationships between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It functions around the idea that by altering one, people undergo changes in the other two as well.
Typically, CBT starts with the therapist helping their patient identify an “unhelpful belief.” This belief can be about themself or how others view them. Within the context of addiction and trauma therapy, it could also involve a certain perception they have about a traumatic memory.
In any case, once an unhelpful belief is identified, their therapist helps them replace it with a healthier, more positive alternative. Sometimes, that is much easier said than done. To ease the process, many therapists assign “homework,” or tasks that will directly challenge the unhelpful belief.
Over time, as the patient’s behaviors change, so too do their thoughts and feelings. Then, they can move on to address another unhealthy belief, and continue the cycle of gradually replacing their negative self-talk with positive thoughts.
Addiction and Trauma Therapy for Veterans
Learning about the existence of specialized addiction and trauma therapy is only the first step to recovery. Now, it is time to discover how you can participate in trauma-informed care and get the comprehensive treatment you need.
Heroes’ Mile is an addiction treatment center in DeLand, Florida that offers extensive care for veterans living with trauma and substance abuse issues. In addition to CBT and EMDR therapy, we also utilize treatment options like group therapy, physical fitness, and several types of recreational therapy.
To deliver the most cohesive and thorough addiction treatment experiences, we organize our therapeutic activities into numerous treatment programs. This allows us to better serve our veterans by recommending them the services that best suit their needs.
Some of the treatment programs available at Heroes’ Mile include:
- Drug and Alcohol Detox
- Residential Rehab
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
Our treatment programs are carefully curated for veterans seeking safety, structure, compassion, and respect. Comprehensive treatment programs help keep individuals focused on healing, and we put great effort into easing the transition back to civilian life. Heroes’ Mile strives to provide effective addiction and trauma therapy that promotes personal dignity, growth, and independence.
Veterans Serving Veterans
If you are interested in our addiction and trauma therapy programs, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are here to help veterans heal from trauma and achieve long-term sobriety. To do so, we acknowledge and implement all the best practices for trauma-informed care.
For example, one of the cornerstones of trauma-informed therapy cites the importance of starting with a knowledgeable workforce. Heroes’ Mile accomplishes this through our staff, which primarily consists of fellow veterans. This means that patients at Heroes’ Mile never have to worry about feeling alienated from their peers or counselors.
Heroes’ Mile believes in recovery through common ground. By providing a safe, relaxed space in which veterans can make lifelong friendships and encourage each other through mutual battles, we enable the formation of close-knit communities and support networks.
Traditional civilian treatment centers lack the same level of deep understanding and empathy found through our veteran exclusivity. For the highest level of support and genuine human connection, choose Heroes’ Mile.
Discover Trauma Therapy for Veterans Here
When you are ready to start recovery, or if you have additional questions about our addiction and trauma therapy, get in touch right away. You can call our admissions experts at 888-838-6692 or submit a confidential contact form to kickstart your healing journey.
And remember: Anyone can overcome the effects of addiction and trauma. All it takes is time, proper support, and the right environment, all of which can be found at Heroes’ Mile.
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