America’s Vets Facing Alcohol Addiction

veteran in therapy - alcohol rehab for veterans concept

The past two decades have been especially challenging for America’s veterans. The War on Terror has meant traumatic combat experience for many of them. Between 2001 and 2022, nearly 3 million military personnel have served in war operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, there are another 12-15 million veterans alive in the U.S. today. At least 20% of them have reported alcohol addiction and the real number is likely higher. 

This article explores what can be done to help vets with addiction and how alcohol rehab for veterans can help.

Veterans, Stress and the Armed Services Lifestyle

Military life can be very stressful, even during peacetime. The challenges faced by servicemembers and their families are often unique and even hard to relate to for the civilian population. Military families often have to move around the country or around the world and have little to no say in where they go or when. 

This means uprooting children from schools and their classmates and separating spouses from their friends and extended families. Coping with stress can be very difficult when you don’t have effective tools for doing so. Alcohol or drugs often appear like a shortcut to escape intense feelings and trauma that make it hard to be at peace or even sleep restfully. Sadly, our vets often do not receive the mental health treatment they deserve.

Alcohol Addiction and Military Life

Alcohol has long been a part of military life. Like many Americans, military folks drink socially and to celebrate – but those in the military frequently have stressors unlike most of the rest of us encounter in our daily lives. 

Drinking alcohol usually starts out as a social activity or a way to quash boredom – but it can quickly become a means of escape or stress relief. Active-duty military members and veterans alike experience a higher rate of alcohol addiction than the general population. Experts believe this is largely tied to the addiction stress they experience, and a lack of adequate mental health care for veterans

Common causes of stress for American vets include:

  • Financial problems
  • Relationship challenges
  • Combat-induced stress
  • Stress from transfers, deployments, and relocations
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Overcoming the Stigma of Alcohol Addiction and Mental Health

veteran in therapy - alcohol rehab for veterans concept

One of the most important reasons for raising awareness of alcohol addiction in America’s veteran community is to overcome stigmas. More than most, military folks tend to be raised to be self-reliant and keep a stiff upper lip. 

Talking about feelings, acknowledging anxiety and depression, or addiction to alcohol or drugs is sometimes seen as “weakness”. The truth is the polar opposite. It takes tremendous courage to open up to someone else about your alcoholism, depression or anxiety

Revealing the truth about yourself to someone else makes you vulnerable. But it is incredibly important. Not only because the people who love you and the people who can help you need to know — but because sometimes we need to hear ourselves say it. 

“I can’t control my drinking and I need help.”

“I am depressed and I can’t seem to snap out of it, I need help.”

“I’m feeling anxious all the time, I can’t sleep. I need help.”

“I Need Help”

Those three words, I need help, hold incredible power. They are the key to opening the door to a better life. They are often the only way forward. Three little words that are so hard for so many of us to say. But what if you were to tap into that same courage and stalwartness that has made it possible to get through situations you never thought you could? 

Suppose you face the fear of judgment and worry about how you’ll feel without alcohol with the same unflinching strength that you apply to so many other areas of your life. The sky would be the limit, wouldn’t it? That is the secret to initiating the change that leads to recovery from alcoholism

Push past the fear and any resistance to help in your mind. That is nothing more than your disease talking to you. Do whatever it takes to push past it and tell someone you trust the truth about you and ask for help. You’ll be glad you did, we guarantee it. 

Recovery is Full of Rewards for Veterans With Alcohol Addiction

It’s not always easy to ask for help. Especially when you are used to being the kind of person who others usually turn to for help. Recovery is challenging and asking for help to begin is one of the first challenges you will face. But the rewards of recovery are indescribable. Sobriety really is just the tip of the iceberg. Recovery from alcoholism has much, much more to offer the vet struggling with alcohol. What recovery really is, is a new system for living.

 A better way to live that sets you free from relying on a substance to cope with disquieting thoughts and uncomfortable feelings. Recovery comes complete with practical tools for diffusing resentment, summoning courage and tempering the soul with integrity. If anything, we’d say the military-minded individual is better equipped to be in recovery than most folks. Veterans and active-duty military folks understand the power of rules and systems and the value of perseverance. 

Some quick facts about U.S. veterans and alcoholism:

  • More than 20% of all service members report heavy drinking. 
  • Veterans who see active combat are almost twice as likely to be addicted to alcohol.
  • About 19% of veterans in the U.S. have been diagnosed with PTSD or CPTSD. 
  • 60-80% of veterans diagnosed with PTSD report heavy or binge drinking. 
  • 65% of veterans who enter substance use disorder treatment report that alcohol is the substance they most frequently misuse (twice as much as the general population).
  • The first marriages of American combat veterans are 62% more likely to end in divorce than the population as a whole. 

Alcohol Rehab for Veterans at Cottonwood Tucson

There are more than 18 million veterans living in the United States today. That’s 6% of our adult population. This is a segment of society that made great sacrifices to help keep America safe, secure, and prosperous. 

It’s also a population that experiences trauma disorders and substance use disorders, including alcohol addiction, at a higher rate than the rest of us. We at Cottonwood Tucson believe we have a solemn obligation to see that America’s veterans have access to the substance abuse and mental health treatment they deserve.

Cottonwood’s Tactical Recovery Program

Cottonwood Tucson’s Tactical Recovery Program is a unique drug and alcohol treatment program developed especially for vets. Because trauma disorders are so common in veterans, particularly vets with alcohol addiction – this recovery program emphasizes trauma recovery and specialized treatments for PTSD and CPTSD.

We believe that lasting recovery from alcoholism can only take root in fertile soil. Meaning that it isn’t enough to simply remove alcohol from the equation. We must diagnose and treat any co-occurring conditions like major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety, or PTSD as well. 

Without comprehensive mental health care, alcohol treatment is a bit like building a house without a foundation. It may stand for a while, but once the ground begins to move beneath it again, it will all come crashing down. 

Just a few of the unique treatments offered in our Tactical Recovery Program include:

  • EMDR Therapy: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR therapy is one of the most effective and fastest-acting treatments for vets with PTSD or other trauma disorders.
  • Somatic Experiencing Therapy: This innovative form of treatment utilizes the body’s fight-or-flight response to power trauma recovery. Somatic Experiencing Therapy is especially effective for veterans who have had traumatic experiences.
  • Wim Hof Breathing Method: Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof, AKA ‘The Iceman’, developed this breathing technique. It helps raise oxygen levels, induce relaxation, and much more.
  • HeartMath: Sometimes called ‘Heart Rhythm Coherence Feedback’, HeartMath is a biofeedback therapy that teaches clients to control their body’s physiological stress response. 

Cottonwood Tucson: Offering Alcohol Rehab for America’s Veterans

Cottonwood Tuscon is the Southwest’s premier mental health and substance use disorder treatment center. For over 25 years our mission has been to deliver the highest quality evidence-based treatment available for mental health disorders and substance use disorders, including alcohol addiction

We believe that serving those who served us is both our duty and an honor. This is why our special commitment to America’s vets is an integral part of our program. 

Our private residential treatment program is situated on 35 peaceful and serene acres in the Sonoran Desert foothills. If you or a veteran you love could benefit from the expert care and innovative treatment that only Cottonwood offers – let’s talk about it. 
Call us anytime, 24 hours a day at (888) 433-1069.

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