Overcoming an alcohol use disorder can be very difficult on your own. However, female veterans have a unique set of challenges that most civilians don’t encounter. Due to this, choosing a specialized rehab for veterans that provides support for women veterans specifically, can help you to find providers that truly understand veteran issues and what it means to achieve recovery.
Prevalence of Veterans’ Substance Abuse
One in ten veterans will be diagnosed with a substance use disorder. The majority will struggle with alcohol use which occurs at rates much higher than among civilian populations. In addition, veterans with substance use disorders are more likely to experience physical disability, poorer general health, and impact social functioning.
While female veterans are at lower risk of developing an addiction than men, data from the VA show that substance use disorders in female veterans have risen 81% in recent years. They are also more likely to have a co-occurring mental illness, which can increase the risk of relapse if not addressed appropriately.
What Causes Alcohol Use Disorder in Female Veterans?
There is no single cause for people to develop a problem with alcohol. Rather, there are multiple factors to developing an addiction and specific female veterans’ issues that may play a role as well.
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Addiction Risk Factors
In general, several risk factors play a role in an alcohol use disorder. These include:
- Genetic predisposition
- Age when you first started drinking
- Mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression
- Frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption
- A history of trauma
These risk factors apply to everyone, but veterans have additional veteran-specific risk factors as well.
Female veterans who experienced combat have a 41% likelihood of developing problematic alcohol use, meaning their drinking far exceeds normal levels. This is a key area of support for women veterans that conventional treatment is less equipped to address. Enrolling in an addiction treatment center run by veterans themselves greatly improves the support that a woman veteran will receive.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Female veterans experience PTSD at much higher rates than both male veterans and civilians. Current estimates suggest that 13.4% of female veterans will receive a diagnosis of PTSD in their lifetime, nearly double the rate of male veterans. In addition, women who have PTSD are 2.5 times more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder.
Drinking to Cope
A common thread in alcohol addiction is using alcohol to cope with your problems. To summarize, we see that female veterans often experience poor physical health, mental health issues, memories of combat exposure, and post-traumatic stress. This can be overwhelming – and often, female veterans will turn to alcohol to cope with these issues.
However, while alcohol may provide short-term relief, its benefits quickly wear off. Studies have shown that drinking to cope is directly associated with developing drinking problems in veterans. Often, this results in a diagnosable alcohol use disorder.
How To Recover from an Alcohol Use Disorder
The good news is that addiction treatment is effective. The simplest, safest, and surest way to overcome an alcohol use disorder is to seek professional treatment. A high-quality treatment center can help you overcome withdrawal, change destructive thought patterns, and regain control of your life.
Standard treatment for substance use disorders typically involves a few common strategies, such as:
- Medical detox
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
- 12-Step facilitation
These treatments are evidence-based ways shown to help people stop drinking. Together, they are enough for most people to achieve recovery. Medical detox helps you to overcome the physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, while behavioral therapies help you to manage addictive thoughts and behaviors.
Yet female veterans require more than just the standard addiction approach. The unique circumstances that led them to develop an addiction must be treated in order for treatment to truly become effective.
Specialized Support for Women Veterans
Treatment for female veterans includes the best evidence-based therapies for addiction as well as specific treatments for veterans’ unique challenges. These can include:
- Trauma-informed therapy
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy
- Veteran-focused support groups
- Counseling for family members
- Job training and preparation
Further, the counselors at a rehab for veterans are equipped to help their clients with a variety of common female veterans’ issues (for example, military sexual trauma, PTSD, and isolation). At Heroes’ mile, most of our counselors are veterans themselves – and can truly empathize with military-related circumstances.
Support for Women Veterans Recovery Near Orlando, Florida
Veterans’ substance abuse problems can be overcome. A rehab for veterans like Heroes’ Mile provides targeted support for women veterans, addressing both addiction and the specific challenges that come from a life of service.
In fact, our treatment facility was created by veterans, for veterans. This means we only accept veterans as clients, and our staff is made up of almost entirely veterans as well. We feel this is a crucial component of veteran addiction care. Too often, veterans feel as though they can’t share their experiences in the military with a civilian population that just doesn’t understand. At the Heroes’ Mile, everyone shares a common ground and can truly relate to each other.
If you have any questions regarding veteran rehab, contact Heroes’ Mile at 1-888-838-6692 or by using our confidential form. With Heroes’ Mile on your side, you don’t have to fight the addiction battle alone – we’ll be with you every step of the way.