We’ve heard the horror stories from Vietnam and the Korean War – how young, vibrant, men went overseas and seemingly never came home, instead replaced by emotionless, empty vessels, too stunned to talk about the terror they had witnessed.
So for many years, they didn’t. They kept quiet. Perhaps you have a grandfather, uncle, or a brother who went overseas to serve. Then when he came back, he was never the same. Many of these veterans suffered and still suffer today from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Back then there wasn’t a diagnosis for post traumatic stress disorder, or if there was, it didn’t have a name and wasn’t a common-known thing. So veterans, many of them wounded, turned to drugs and alcohol to self medicate, even though they couldn’t identify themselves what they were experiencing.
Many of them still can’t explain it. They wake up in the middle of the night or can’t sleep at all. There are flashbacks. They lash out in anger at loved ones. Then they turn to their fix – their only source of comfort and only way of easing the pain. The fact that many of these veterans were once groomed to believe that showing emotion or revealing feelings was a sign of weakness only compounds a problem that experts are still seeing today.
Recent data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health suggest that veterans are more at risk than the rest of the general adult population for suffering from substance abuse problems. Specifically, veterans are more likely to drink alcohol, binge on alcohol, and abuse alcohol heavily. They are more likely to use illicit drugs and smoke cigarettes. They are also more likely to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol than the rest of the population.
It’s important to note that drug and alcohol abuse is merely a symptom of real, underlying issues and mental illnesses such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and even schizophrenia. While some of these disorders are more severe than others, they all require professional help.
If you suspect that you or a loved one may be suffering from any of the above mental issues or may have a problem with substance abuse, contact a local drug and alcohol treatment center. You can discuss treatment options which include both residential and outpatient treatment programs, group counseling, individual counseling, and more. The problems suffered by veterans can be devastating. Don’t let them continue another day when you can get immediate help.
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