Helping a Veteran or Military Parent With Addiction
November is National Veterans and Military Families Month, an important time to recognize past and present service members and their families. As deputy assistant secretary of defense for Military Community and Family Policy Patricia Montes Barron reminds us, “it is also critical to acknowledge the everyday challenges” many military veteran families face.1 This article will discuss the unique substance misuse challenges faced by veterans and how you can help a parent with their substance use disorder.
Veterans and Addiction
The rate of veterans who meet the criteria to be diagnosed with a drug or alcohol addiction—also known as a substance use disorder— is higher than the rate among the general population.2 Deployment, the stress of training, combat exposure, and other aspects of military life are some of the reasons behind the higher average. 2
To make matters worse, there are a lot of barriers in the military that prevent active military members from seeking help. Lack of confidentiality, zero-tolerance policies, negative stigma, etc. discourage treatment seeking. An estimated half of military personnel report that they believe seeking help for mental health issues would negatively affect their career in the military.
As a result, the problem continues and many veterans are left with untreated mental health issues, including addiction.3 As a child of a veteran with a potential substance use disorder, you can help by recognizing the signs of addiction. Some signs of substance use disorder may include: 3
- The substance is taken in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than intended.
- There is a strong and persistent desire or unsuccessful effort to cut down the use of the substance.
- Your parent has a strong desire or urges to use the substance, known as cravings.
- A failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, home, or school due to recurrent use of the substance.
- Substance use continues despite persistent social or interpersonal problems caused or made worse by substance use.
- Important recreational, social, or occupational activities are given up or reduced because of substance use.
- Using substances in situations that are physically hazardous.
- Continued use of the substance despite knowledge of persistent physical or psychological problems that are likely caused or exacerbated by the substance use.
If you believe your parent is experiencing some of the above symptoms, reach out to a medical professional for a formal diagnosis.
Finding the Right Rehab For Your Veteran Parent
A great way to offer support for your parent is to research rehab facilities in the area. No single treatment is appropriate for everyone, and you can help match your parent’s needs with the appropriate treatment setting.5
Some veterans face an even greater challenge by having co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders. Mental disorders like PTSD, depression, and anxiety commonly co-occur with drug and alcohol addiction. Almost 1 out of 3 veterans seeking treatment for addiction also have PTSD. 7
Our specialized rehab for veterans in Orange County, the “Salute to Recovery” program helps veterans learn that addiction is a disease, not a weakness, and give them coping skills to maintain sobriety after treatment is completed. For more information on levels of care, co-occurring disorder treatment, or therapies to treat addiction, reach out to an admissions navigator at .
How to Use Veteran Benefits for Rehab
The cost of substance use disorder treatment should not discourage your parent from seeking help. Plus, using insurance is the most common way to pay for rehab. Laguna Treatment Hospital has a team of admissions navigators available 24/7 at to answer your questions, go over your coverage, and walk you through the admissions process.
The VA also has resources on how to help veterans pay for substance use disorder treatment. Substance addiction recovery is a lifelong process, start today and begin your journey to long-term success.