Outpatient Rehab for Active Duty Military Personnel

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

Effective Outpatient Rehab for Active Duty Military at Longbranch Recovery

Substance abuse is a pervasive issue among active duty military personnel, with rates of alcohol and drug use significantly higher than in the general population. The unique stressors and challenges of military life, such as combat exposure, extended deployments, and the difficulty of transitioning back to civilian life, can contribute to the development of addiction.

Addressing addiction is crucial for the well-being of military personnel and their ability to fulfill their duties effectively. However, seeking treatment while actively serving can be challenging, as individuals may fear negative consequences for their military careers or struggle to find time for treatment amidst their responsibilities.

Outpatient rehab offers a viable solution for active duty military personnel battling addiction. This flexible treatment option allows individuals to receive the care and support they need while continuing to serve and maintain their military obligations.

Advantages of Outpatient Rehab for Active Duty Military

men of the army marching

One of the primary benefits of outpatient rehab for active duty military is the ability to continue serving while receiving treatment. Unlike inpatient programs that require individuals to take extended leave, outpatient rehab allows participants to attend therapy sessions and group meetings around their military duties.

This flexibility is crucial for maintaining continuity in one’s military career and minimizing disruptions to unit readiness. Outpatient rehab programs often offer evening and weekend sessions, making it easier for active duty personnel to find time for treatment without compromising their responsibilities.

Another advantage of outpatient rehab is the higher level of privacy and confidentiality compared to inpatient programs. Seeking addiction treatment can be stigmatized in the military, and many individuals fear negative repercussions for their careers. Outpatient rehab allows participants to discreetly attend sessions without drawing attention to their treatment, helping to alleviate concerns about confidentiality.

In terms of cost, outpatient rehab is generally more affordable than inpatient treatment. While Tricare, the military’s health insurance program, covers a portion of addiction treatment costs, outpatient rehab’s lower price point can make it a more accessible option for some individuals and families.

Finally, outpatient rehab offers opportunities for family involvement and support, which can be beneficial for the recovery process. Family members can attend therapy sessions, learn about addiction, and develop strategies for supporting their loved one’s recovery. This involvement can foster a stronger support system and improve communication within the family unit.

The Role of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in Outpatient Rehab

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is a valuable tool in outpatient rehab for active duty military personnel struggling with alcohol or opioid addiction. MAT involves the use of FDA-approved medications, such as naltrexone, buprenorphine, or methadone, in combination with behavioral therapies and counseling to provide a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment.

The benefits of MAT are well-documented, with research showing that it can effectively reduce cravings, prevent relapse, and improve treatment retention rates. By helping to stabilize brain chemistry and alleviate withdrawal symptoms, MAT allows individuals to focus on the psychological and behavioral aspects of their recovery.

In outpatient rehab settings, common medications used for alcohol addiction include naltrexone, which blocks the pleasurable effects of alcohol, and acamprosate, which helps to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. For opioid addiction, buprenorphine and methadone are often prescribed to help manage withdrawal and prevent relapse.

Eligibility and Access to Outpatient Rehab

Active duty military personnel seeking outpatient rehab for addiction may be concerned about eligibility and access to treatment. Tricare, the military’s health insurance program, provides coverage for outpatient addiction treatment, including therapy, counseling, and medication management.

small flag of the united states in a bar

To access outpatient rehab through Tricare, individuals typically need a referral from their primary care provider or a military mental health professional. This process involves an assessment to determine the appropriate level of care based on the severity of the addiction and any co-occurring mental health conditions.

Confidentiality is a top priority in military addiction treatment, and seeking help should not have negative consequences for one’s military career. The military’s health care system adheres to strict privacy regulations, ensuring that personal information related to addiction treatment is kept confidential.

For those not eligible for Tricare coverage, there are alternative options available. Many private insurance plans offer coverage for outpatient rehab, and some facilities provide sliding-scale fees or payment plans to make treatment more accessible. Additionally, community-based organizations and non-profit groups may offer low-cost or free addiction treatment services for military personnel and veterans.

Evidence-Based Therapies in Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab programs for active duty military personnel utilize evidence-based therapies to provide effective, proven treatment for addiction. These therapies are grounded in scientific research and have been shown to produce positive outcomes in real-world clinical settings.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely used evidence-based therapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to substance abuse. Through CBT, participants learn coping strategies, problem-solving skills, and relapse prevention techniques to maintain long-term recovery.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is another effective evidence-based therapy, particularly for individuals with co-occurring mental health disorders. DBT focuses on teaching skills for managing intense emotions, improving interpersonal relationships, and tolerating distress. These skills are invaluable for active duty military personnel navigating the challenges of military life and addiction recovery.

Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) is an essential component of outpatient rehab for military personnel, as many individuals have experienced combat-related trauma or other distressing events. TIC acknowledges the widespread impact of trauma and emphasizes creating a safe, supportive environment that promotes healing and resilience.

Group therapy and peer support are also integral aspects of evidence-based outpatient rehab. Sharing experiences, challenges, and successes with others who have faced similar struggles fosters a sense of camaraderie and reduces feelings of isolation. Group sessions may focus on specific topics, such as relapse prevention or stress management, and provide opportunities for skill-building and mutual support.

Addressing Co-Occurring Disorders

Active duty military personnel are at a higher risk for developing mental health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety, compared to the general population. These mental health issues often co-occur with substance abuse, creating a complex dual diagnosis that requires specialized treatment.

Research indicates that up to 50% of individuals with substance use disorders also have a co-occurring mental health condition. Treating addiction without addressing underlying mental health concerns can lead to poorer outcomes and a higher risk of relapse. Conversely, failing to treat substance abuse can exacerbate mental health symptoms and hinder recovery.

relaxed woman managing her emotions

Outpatient rehab programs must provide integrated treatment that addresses both addiction and mental health simultaneously. This comprehensive approach ensures that individuals receive the support they need to achieve lasting recovery and improve their overall well-being.

Specialized therapies for co-occurring disorders in outpatient rehab may include:

  • Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) for individuals with PTSD
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for depression and anxiety
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) for trauma
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) for emotional regulation and distress tolerance

By addressing the complex interplay between addiction and mental health, outpatient rehab programs can help active duty military personnel build a strong foundation for long-term recovery and resilience.

Military-Specific Considerations in Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab programs serving active duty military personnel must be attuned to the unique stressors and challenges faced by this population. Military life often involves long separations from family, exposure to traumatic events, and the pressure to maintain peak performance in high-stress situations. Effective treatment should address these military-specific concerns and provide targeted support.

Father holding his baby son on his shoulders

Incorporating military values and culture into treatment can help create a sense of familiarity and comfort for active duty personnel. Programs that emphasize values such as loyalty, integrity, and resilience can help individuals see their recovery as an extension of their commitment to serving their country and their fellow service members.

Involving command and leadership in the recovery process, when appropriate and with the individual’s consent, can provide additional support and accountability. Commanders who are informed about an individual’s treatment can make accommodations to support their recovery, such as adjusting duty schedules or providing access to additional resources.

Outpatient rehab programs should also help active duty military personnel prepare for the challenges of deployment and reintegration. This may include developing strategies for maintaining sobriety in high-stress environments, building a support network, and learning healthy coping mechanisms to manage the emotional and psychological demands of military life.