Specialized Treatment for Veterans suffering with Substance Use, Trauma, and other Mental Health Challenges

Veterans face unique mental health challenges as they leave the military and readjust to civilian life. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 3.9 million veterans had a mental health condition and/or substance use disorder in 2019.

Our mission is to provide quality care to veterans facing addiction, co-occurring mental health disorders or other challenges directly or indirectly stemming from their military service. Through several evidence-based treatment modalities, education and peer support, Pyramid Military Therapy & Recovery Programs can help you truly understand the underlying issues resulting in your substance use and mental health symptoms.

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Military Veterans and Mental Health

In 2019, 3.1 million military veterans (15.3%) had a mental health condition such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression or anxiety. In 883,000 of these veterans, the mental disorder was considered serious. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that about 1 in 8 to 1 in 10 veterans have major depression requiring treatment.

Rates of mental illness among veterans vary by war. Between 37 and 50% Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Studies have shown that Vietnam veterans are twice as likely to present with depression and anxiety as World War II or Korean War veterans.

In veterans, mental health disorders are strongly associated with substance use as well as other issues including reintegration stress, sleep problems, traumatic brain injury and domestic violence.

Substance Use Disorders in Veterans

The rate of veterans with substance use disorders is slightly higher than that of the general population, with more than one in ten receiving a diagnosis. In 2019, 1.3 million veterans were reported to have a drug and/or alcohol use disorder.

In the military, zero-tolerance policies around substance use, lack of confidentiality and mandatory random drug testing may worsen stigma, discouraging individuals suffering from substance use disorder from seeking the help they need.

Here are some quick facts about substance use among military veterans, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • More than 1 in 10 veterans have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder
  • Alcohol use disorders are the most common substance use disorders among military personnel, with 65% of veterans who enter treatment reporting alcohol as the substance they most frequently use
  • The percentage of veterans in the VA health system receiving prescription opioids increased from 17% in 2001 to 24% in 2009
  • Overall opioid overdose rates increased from 14% in 2010 to 21% in 2016
  • More than 9% of veterans report experiencing severe pain, compared with 6.4% of civilians, meaning veterans are at a higher risk for accidental opioid overdose

Dual Diagnosis: Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders in Veterans

Among veterans, 481,000 or 2.3% had both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder in 2019.

About 11% of veterans seeking mental health treatment for the first time within the VA health system also present with a substance use disorder. On the other hand, veterans who suffer from substance use disorders often meet criteria for co-occurring mental health disorders such as PTSD, depression and anxiety. In addition, veterans who experienced trauma during combat are at higher risk of drinking and drug use, and those with substance use disorders are three to four times more likely to be diagnosed with PTSD or depression.

Quick facts about co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders in veterans:

  • More than 2 in 10 veterans with PTSD have a comorbid substance use disorder
  • About 1 in 3 veterans entering treatment for substance use disorders are also present with PTSD
  • 6 in 10 veterans with PTSD smoke cigarettes vs. 3 out of 10 veterans without PTSD

Mental illness and addiction can be treated simultaneously. Our programs are tailored to address your specific needs.

Get Help Today

If you or someone you care about is a veteran struggling with mental health, substance use or both, you’re not alone. Recovery is possible. Reach out to Pyramid Military Therapy & Recovery today to learn more about our personalized, evidence-based treatment programs.