In the United States, there are millions of veterans who return home with service-related injuries. Unfortunately, the risk of addiction to prescription drugs in veterans with these impairments has been on the rise.
Here’s what service members need to know about the connection between addiction to prescription drugs and veterans who have been injured or disabled.
Service-Related Injuries Mean a Higher Risk of Prescription Drug Addiction
Studies show that the rate of disabled and injured veterans who return from service has increased at least twenty-five percent in recent years.
Some common examples of physical injuries and disabilities in veterans include:
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- Hearing loss
- Tinnitus (ringing in ears)
- Restricted range of motion in limbs
- Back pain
- Nerve pain
Additionally, many veterans struggle with their mental health as well. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that a large majority of veterans return from war with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Sometimes, the easiest solution to the pain that veterans feel is for doctors to give them prescription drugs. However, without solutions to the root of the pain and the right kind of support, veterans’ use of prescription drugs often leads to addiction. This forms the basis of the link between prescription drugs and veterans.
Chronic Pain in Veterans with Prescription Drug Addiction
There is a dangerous cycle that veterans often fall into when they have service-related injuries. The cycle first starts when veterans experience chronic pain from a disability or injury sustained during their service.
Doctors then prescribe opioids as a way to provide veterans temporary relief from their chronic pain. These prescription drugs, though given to patients legally, can then be abused, and are often highly addictive. Here are some signs of prescription drug abuse:
- Taking more than the recommend dose
- Needing frequent refills before they’re due
- Jumping between multiple doctors to get more prescriptions
- Mood changes and reckless behaviors
For veterans who suffer from chronic pain and addiction, making the decision to seek treatment and become sober is often even harder because it means potentially having to give up medications that help manage pain.
This is why it is essential for veterans to find the right treatment programs for them. The right treatment facilities will be able to assist patients through recovery while taking their pain, injuries, and service history into consideration.
Many Veterans Experience Co-Occurring Disorders
Co-occurring disorders are mental health conditions that contribute to substance use disorders, such as prescription drug abuse. Post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans is a co-occurring disease that directly influences their experiences with addiction.
People with PTSD might find themselves addicted to prescription drugs for the same reason as in chronic pain situations: they’re seeking relief from pain. In this case, the pain is also emotional. PTSD is a condition that blocks veterans’ brains from healthily processing traumatic events. Abusing drugs and alcohol has a similar numbing effect for a lot of veterans.
Yet, in order to truly recover from any injury, mental health condition, or addiction struggle, it’s important to receive the right kind of treatment.
Treating Addiction to Prescription Drugs in Veterans
Systematic recovery is essential to long-lasting results. This means that treatment programs for veterans should address emotional, physical, and behavioral disrupters that might contribute to the substance abuse.
There are many different types of therapies that have been successful for veterans with PTSD, injuries, and addiction, such as:
- EMDR therapy
- Pain management
- Recreational activities
- Group and individual therapy sessions
- and having alumni resources post-rehab
Recovery for veterans that is encouraged and taught by veterans is also extremely beneficial in building a support system. Though the struggle with any kind of addiction, including with prescription drugs, can feel isolating, know that there are millions of other service members who understand and are ready to work with other veterans toward recovery.
We Can Help You Carry the Weight
Now you understand the connection between prescription drugs and veterans, and why the weight of physical and emotional pain as a veteran can become unbearable. Our specially trained, veteran staff members at Heroes’ Mile are here to help you lift some of that burden off of your shoulders.
If you or a loved one struggles with the pain of PTSD, service injuries, and/or addiction, there are treatment options for you. Reach out to us today by phone at 1-888-VET-NOW2 or by filling out our confidential online form.