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Veterans and Addiction Statistics

veterans and addiction statistics

Mental health issues and substance abuse problems are the cause of extreme concern today because of the rising numbers of those affected. Traumatic events in combat, combat injuries, witnessing the death of fellow Veterans, and deployment and family issues can be reasons why Veterans are vulnerable to developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Veterans and addiction statistics prove why the trends are so concerning today.

Addiction Statistics Among US Veterans

More than two in ten Veterans with PTSD have a substance abuse disorder which means 27% of those with PTSD also have a substance abuse disorder. In addition,13.8% of Veterans deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq have a diagnosis of PTSD, according to a 2008 survey.

These addiction statistics with Veterans concern Veterans coming from combat:

  • Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom: 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans who served have PTSD in a given year
  • Gulf War (Desert Storm): 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans have PTSD in a given year
  • Vietnam War: 30% of Vietnam Vets have had PTSD in their lifetime

PTSD in Veterans has extreme symptoms which cause Veterans to reach out for alcohol and substances for relief. It is very common for PTSD to be a leading cause of substance abuse and is very often co-occurring with substance abuse. Addictions among Veterans also include opioids for pain relief. War Veterans with PTSD also tend to binge drink. 

Combat injuries and legitimate prescriptions for pain relief for injuries incurred in the military are often the stepping stones for addiction in Veterans. In 2009, military doctors wrote 3.8 million prescriptions for pain relief. Many of the prescriptions written are highly addictive. Veterans build up a tolerance for painkillers and often use more than prescribed. Additionally, Veterans combine alcohol with pain pills to increase relief. Addiction statistics with Veterans also break down the usage of prescription misuse in the following study. 

Opioid Prescription Misuse Statistics

In the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) for Veterans with substance abuse, there were 595,000 Veterans with opioid misuse which is 2.9% of the total population. Of the prescription users listed below, 57,000 were also heroin users and 16,000 were pain reliever misusers and heroin users.  

  • 273,000 opioid prescriptions were Hydrocodone
  • 222,000 were Oxycodone prescriptions
  • 5,000 were Fentanyl prescriptions

Why do Veterans Fall Victim to Addiction?

Veterans fall victim to addiction from stress and trauma experienced in combat and within the military culture. Veterans addiction statistics point to deployments, combat, and unusual living conditions in a military culture so different from civilian lifestyles. Sexual trauma is also a factor in military culture with 23 out of 100 women facing sexual assault and 38 out of 100 men facing sexual harassment. This sexual misconduct can lead to PTSD can because of such difficult and continual traumas, which then leads to substance abuse and alcoholism.

Rehab Options for Veterans

Treatment for Veterans comes with many rehab options for Veterans. The VA has programs available for Veterans at the many VA centers nationwide. Help is also available through the private sector in private treatment facilities.

The VA offers the following treatment options:

  • One-on-one counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Group Therapy
  • PTSD Therapy
  • Inpatient and outpatient rehab
  • Medications for withdrawal

There can be problems with finding help with the VA system. Sometimes there are long wait times for appointments and finding an available counseling program. Private centers can provide the same treatment options and offer professional help for medical and mental health issues resulting from substance abuse. 

Detox may also be a treatment to be considered, and many treatment centers offer detox before residential treatment. It is important to consider the needs of the Veteran, the degree of addiction, and what the addiction involves.

Veterans and Addiction Treatment

Veterans with addiction in the US can contact Evoke Wellness at San Marcos for more information concerning detox, rehab treatment, and other treatments for mental health and substance abuse. Our professional counselors and medical personnel have experience with Veterans who wish to seek treatment for substance abuse disorders and mental health issues. Call us or visit our admissions page today to learn more.