Alcohol Rehab for Military Veterans

Author: Robert Rynfield | Clinical Reviewer: Emily Meyers, LPC | Editorial Policy Updated: June 14, 2024

Leading Alcohol Rehab Program for Armed Forced Veterans at Longbranch Recovery

At Longbranch Recovery, we understand the complex needs of veterans struggling with alcohol addiction. That’s why our dedicated team of experienced professionals is committed to provide comprehensive, compassionate and evidence-based alcohol rehab programs for military veterans.

Our tailored treatments considers the veteran as a whole person – mind, body, and spirit – with unique experiences and traumas that have contribute to the development of the addiction. This way, we can support them on regaining control of their life by offering flexible help that really meets their needs.

Current Statistics on the Substance Abuse Landscape in Veterans

Did you know that approximately 6.2% of veterans, (about 1.3 million individuals), were diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder in 2023? This significant statistic highlights the ongoing issue of addiction among those who have served our country. The challenges of transitioning back to civilian life, coupled with the unique stressors and traumas experienced during military service, can make veterans particularly vulnerable to developing substance abuse disorders. Addressing this issue is crucial for the well-being of our veterans.

Veterans and Addiction

Prevalence of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Among Veterans

Substance abuse, particularly alcohol abuse, is a significant problem among the veteran population. Studies have shown that veterans are more likely to engage in heavy drinking and binge drinking compared to their civilian counterparts. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that one in ten veterans has been diagnosed with a substance use disorder, with alcohol being the most commonly abused substance.

Unique Challenges Veterans Face When Returning to Civilian Life

The transition from military to civilian life can be a challenging and stressful period for many veterans. After years of structured living and a strong sense of purpose within the military, veterans may struggle to adapt to the more flexible and self-directed nature of civilian life. This adjustment can be further complicated by the loss of the close-knit camaraderie and support system found in the military, leading to feelings of isolation and disconnection. 

Additionally, veterans may face difficulties finding employment, navigating complex healthcare systems, and reintegrating into family life. These unique challenges can contribute to the development or exacerbation of substance abuse problems, as veterans may turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope with the stress and uncertainty of this major life transition.

Why Do Veterans Abuse Drugs and Alcohol?

dos hombres en misión militar

Traumatic Experiences During Service

Exposure to traumatic events is a significant risk factor for substance abuse among veterans. Many veterans have witnessed or experienced life-threatening situations, such as combat, accidents, or sexual assault, which can lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Substance abuse may serve as a coping mechanism for veterans struggling to process and manage the intense emotions and memories associated with these traumatic experiences.

Difficulty Adjusting to Civilian Life

The transition from the highly structured and purpose-driven environment of the military to the more autonomous and less predictable nature of civilian life can be a significant challenge for many veterans. This adjustment period may be accompanied by feelings of isolation, loss of identity, and difficulty finding meaningful employment or social connections. These stressors can increase the risk of turning to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope with the overwhelming emotions and challenges associated with this major life transition.

The Connection Between Substance Abuse and Mental Health in Veterans

High Rates of Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders in Veterans

Veterans struggling with substance abuse often have co-occurring mental health disorders, such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Studies have shown that the rates of these mental health conditions are significantly higher among veterans compared to the general population. The complex interplay between substance abuse and mental health disorders can create a vicious cycle, with each condition exacerbating the other and making recovery more challenging.

PTSD and Substance Misuse

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common mental health condition among veterans, often resulting from exposure to traumatic events during military service. Symptoms of PTSD, such as intrusive memories, avoidance, hyperarousal, and negative changes in mood and thinking, can be highly distressing and interfere with daily functioning. Many veterans turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to self-medicate and cope with these symptoms, leading to the development of substance abuse disorders.

Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety are also prevalent among veterans, often co-occurring with substance abuse. The challenges of readjusting to civilian life, combined with the emotional burden of military experiences, can contribute to the development of these mental health conditions. Veterans may use alcohol or drugs to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, such as feelings of hopelessness, worry, or irritability, but this self-medication ultimately worsens the underlying mental health issues.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are another common consequence of military service, often resulting from explosions, falls, or other head traumas. TBIs can lead to a range of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes, including impaired decision-making, increased impulsivity, and difficulty regulating emotions. These changes can increase the risk of substance abuse, as veterans may turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with the challenges associated with TBIs.

Sexual Assault Trauma

Military sexual trauma (MST) is a devastating experience that can have long-lasting effects on mental health and substance abuse. Veterans who have experienced MST may struggle with feelings of shame, guilt, and betrayal, as well as symptoms of PTSD and depression. Substance abuse may serve as a way to numb or escape the painful emotions associated with MST, but it ultimately hinders the healing process and can lead to further trauma and distress.

Chronic Pain and Physical Traumas

Many veterans experience chronic pain due to physical injuries sustained during their military service. Chronic pain can be debilitating and may lead to the use of alcohol or prescription opioids as a means of self-medication. The combination of chronic pain and substance abuse can create a dangerous cycle, with increased tolerance leading to higher doses and a greater risk of addiction and overdose. 

The Importance of Specialized Veteran Alcohol Rehab Centers

Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-informed care is a critical component of effective addiction treatment for veterans. Many veterans have experienced traumatic events during their military service, such as combat exposure, accidents, or sexual assault. 

These traumas can have a profound impact on mental health and contribute to the development of substance abuse disorders. Specialized veteran rehab centers employ a trauma-informed approach, which recognizes the widespread impact of trauma and seeks to create a safe, supportive environment that promotes healing and resilience.

Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

hand compass to find the way

Veterans struggling with alcohol addiction often have co-occurring mental health disorders, such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety. Dual-diagnosis treatment is essential for addressing both the substance abuse and the underlying mental health issues simultaneously. Specialized veteran rehab centers have the expertise to provide integrated treatment that targets the complex interplay between addiction and mental health, promoting a more comprehensive and effective recovery process.

Cultural Competency in Understanding Military Experiences

Cultural competency is another crucial aspect of specialized veteran alcohol rehab. Treatment providers must have a deep understanding of military culture, values, and experiences to effectively engage and support veterans in their recovery journey. This cultural understanding helps to build trust, rapport, and a sense of shared understanding between veterans and their treatment team. 

Specialized veteran rehab centers employ staff who are knowledgeable about military culture and often have direct experience working with veterans, ensuring that the unique needs and perspectives of this population are met with sensitivity and respect

Introducing N.O.R.A. House by Longbranch Recovery

Specialized Program for Veterans

At Longbranch Recovery, we are proud to offer a specialized program designed specifically for veterans struggling with alcohol addiction. Our N.O.R.A. House program, which stands for “No One Recovers Alone,” is a testament to our commitment to providing the highest quality care and support to the brave men and women who have served our country. 

We understand the unique challenges and experiences of veterans, and our dedicated team of professionals is equipped to address the complex needs of this population with compassion, expertise, and understanding.

Meaning behind “No One Recovers Alone”

The name “N.O.R.A. House” encapsulates our philosophy that recovery is a journey best undertaken with the support and guidance of others. We believe that no one should have to face the challenges of addiction alone, and our program is designed to foster a sense of community, camaraderie, and shared purpose among our veteran clients..

At N.O.R.A. House, we offer a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to addiction treatment that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. Our program features:

  • Trauma-informed, dual-diagnosis treatment: We recognize the profound impact of trauma on addiction and mental health, and our clinical team is trained in evidence-based practices to address both substance abuse and co-occurring disorders simultaneously.
  • Treating the whole person: body, mind, spirit, and family: Our holistic approach to treatment considers all aspects of a veteran’s life, including their physical health, emotional well-being, spiritual needs, and family relationships. We offer a range of therapies and services to support comprehensive healing and growth.
  • Licensed clinicians with expertise in veteran care: Our team of experienced professionals includes licensed clinicians who specialize in working with veterans and have a deep understanding of the unique challenges and needs of this population. Their expertise ensures that our clients receive the highest quality care tailored to their specific circumstances.

Treatment Options at N.O.R.A. House

Therapies and Services Offered

At N.O.R.A. House, we offer a comprehensive range of therapies and services designed to address the complex needs of veterans struggling with alcohol addiction. Our treatment options include individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and a variety of holistic and experiential therapies.

Evidence-Based Practices

Our clinical team employs evidence-based practices that have been proven effective in treating substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. These practices include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. By incorporating these research-backed methods, we ensure that our clients receive the most effective and efficient care possible.

Holistic Approaches

In addition to traditional therapies, we also offer a range of holistic approaches that address the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. These may include mindfulness and meditation practices, yoga, art therapy, and other experiential activities that promote self-awareness, stress reduction, and emotional regulation. By incorporating these holistic elements, we aim to support our clients in developing a strong foundation for lasting recovery and overall well-being.

Family Involvement and Support

We recognize that addiction affects not only the individual but also their loved ones. That’s why we place a strong emphasis on family involvement and support throughout the treatment process. Our program includes family therapy sessions, education, and resources to help families understand addiction, improve communication, and build healthier relationships. By engaging families in the recovery journey, we aim to create a supportive network that can help sustain long-term success.

PTSD and Trauma Counseling

Given the high rates of trauma exposure among veterans, our program places a special focus on PTSD and trauma counseling. Our clinical team is trained in evidence-based practices for treating trauma, such as prolonged exposure therapy (PE) and cognitive processing therapy (CPT). We provide a safe, supportive environment for veterans to process their experiences, develop coping skills, and build resilience in the face of trauma-related challenges.

Vocational Support and Life Skills Training

We understand that a successful recovery involves more than just abstaining from alcohol. That’s why we offer vocational support and life skills training to help veterans navigate the challenges of reintegrating into civilian life. This may include assistance with resume writing, job search strategies, and interview preparation, as well as training in budgeting, time management, and other essential life skills.

12-step Community Integration

At N.O.R.A. House, we believe in the power of peer support and community in the recovery process. We encourage our clients to engage with local 12-step communities, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Veterans in Recovery, to build a strong network of support and accountability. Our team provides guidance and resources to help clients navigate the 12-step process and find meetings that resonate with their needs and preferences.

VA-Approved Rehab Centers and Insurance Coverage

The Importance of Choosing a VA-approved Rehab Center

For veterans seeking alcohol addiction treatment, choosing a VA-approved rehab center is crucial. VA-approved centers have met rigorous standards set by the Department of Veterans Affairs and are recognized for their expertise in treating the unique needs of veterans. By selecting a VA-approved facility, veterans can ensure that they receive high-quality, evidence-based care that is tailored to their specific challenges and experiences.

life being beautiful with drug rehab

Longbranch Recovery Works with VA Benefits and Other Insurance Providers

At Longbranch Recovery, we are proud to be a VA-approved rehab center, which means that our N.O.R.A. House program is accessible to veterans who qualify for VA benefits. We work closely with the VA to ensure that our services are covered and that our clients receive the support they need to achieve lasting recovery. In addition to VA benefits, we also work with a range of other insurance providers to make our services as accessible and affordable as possible. 

Success Stories

Inspiring Stories of Veterans Who Have Found Healing and Hope Through the Program

At Longbranch Recovery, we have had the privilege of witnessing countless inspiring success stories of veterans who have found healing and hope through our N.O.R.A. House program. One such story is that of John, a former Marine who struggled with alcohol addiction and PTSD for years after returning from deployment. When he first came to N.O.R.A. 

House John was skeptical about treatment and resistant to opening up about his experiences. However, through the support of our clinical team and the camaraderie of his fellow veterans in the program, John began to engage in the recovery process and confront the underlying traumas that fueled his addiction.

Another success story is that of Sarah, an Army veteran who turned to alcohol to cope with the challenges of readjusting to civilian life and the pain of a sexual assault she experienced during her service. At N.O.R.A. Sarah found a safe, supportive environment where she could process her experiences and develop healthy coping strategies. 

Through a combination of trauma-focused therapy, holistic practices, and peer support, Sarah was able to break free from the grip of addiction and rediscover a sense of purpose and hope for the future.